The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Federal Reserve & USDA Reports Show Downward Trends in Economic Equality and Hunger

Posted on September 09, 2017 at 12:47 PM

The Oct. 19-20 Delta Caucus will address economic issues at a time of economic stagnation or decline for many in the Greater Delta Region. The Federal Reserve has just published a report showing earnings for minorities have declined instead of improving over the last four decades, while the latest USDA food insecurity reports showed the Delta region still at the bottom and 41 million Americans nationwide struggling with food insecurity.

Early registration deadline for the annual Delta conference is Sept. 19. After that date, late fees increase to $125 as an incentive to get the fees in on time. Registration information is below in this message.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Congressman Rick Crawford, Chelsea Clinton speaking on behalf of the nonpartisan, philanthropic work of the Clinton Foundation, and grassroots leaders from across the 8-state Delta region will participate at the Delta Caucus conference on Oct. 19-20, 2017. A longer list of speakers is below in this message.

We need to urge the federal and state powers that be to take much stronger action in promoting job growth and economic progress. Anyone who believes we as a nation are making progress in reducing food insecurity and economic inequality should look at the following data from two recent reports:

–a Federal Reserve report showing a widening wage disparity for African Americans, and

–recent USDA food insecurity figures showing a stagnant situation nationwide with 41 million people still not having certain access to affordable, nutritious food, and five Delta states ranking among the six worst in food insecurity: Mississippi at the bottom, followed by Louisiana, Alabama, New Mexico in the Southwest Border, Arkansas and Kentucky. Rural America in general had much more serious struggles with hunger than metropolitan areas.

Federal Reserve report shows that the wage gap is widening for African Americans: The Fed reported on Sept. 5 that in 1979, black men earned 80% as much as white men. By 2016, that gap had worsened to 70%. The divide also widened for black women.

The Fed report concluded that “Especially troubling is the growing unexplained portion of the divergence in earnings for blacks relative to whites.” The Fed reported that in 1979, about 8 percentage points of the gap was hard to explain, but by 2016 that had risen to 13 percentage points-slightly less than half of the wage earnings gap.

The Fed authors wrote that the growing percentage that is difficult to explain “implies that factors that are harder to measure-such as discrimination, differences in school quality, or differences in career opportunities-are likely to be playing a role in the persistence and widening of these gaps over time.”

Fed Chairman Janet Yellen has increased the US central bank’s focus on inequality and the lagging employment situations for minorities. This is a change from earlier periods when Fed research viewed inequality as outside of their role.

This research is painful but needed and the Fed’s new research in this area is commendable.

In the 1960s and 1970s there was some gradual progress in reducing poverty, but beginning in the 1980s the trends began heading in the opposite direction, with limited improvements in the mid to late 1990s, and then a negative trend from the early 2000s to the present. To address these problems we need to be accurate and realistic about where we stand today.

Women still make about 80 cents on the dollar for the same work as men.

USDA Food Security report, September, 2017 shows the 12.3 food insecurity rate is still higher than the rate right before the Great Recession, which was 11.1% in 2007.

Food security in America reached its best level ever in 1999, when it decreased to 10.1%.

We are going backward:

In 2016 there were 10 million people in food insecure households than in 1999, and the percentage had risen from 10.1% 18 years ago to the latest figure of 12.3%.

5 million more people are food insecure today than there were in 2007.

Delta states continue to have the worst food insecurity in America:

Here are the states with the six worst food insecurity data, all much higher than the national average:

Mississippi: 18.7%

Louisiana: 18.3%

Alabama: 18.1%

New Mexico: 17.6% (The only state in the bottom six that is not in the Delta/Alabama Black Belt region)

Arkansas: 17.5%

Kentucky: 17.3%

Rural households have much more serious struggles with hunger than those in metropolitan areas-with higher rates of food insecurity overall were 15% compared to 11.8 percent in metropolitan areas, and higher rates of very low food security-6.6% compared to 4.6%

For the Delta Caucus conference,

The opening session is Thursday evening, Oct. 19 from 4:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. at the Arkansas State Capitol Rotunda,

The main session is on Friday, Oct. 20 at the Clinton Presidential Library’s Great Hall.

Chelsea Clinton will be speaking by live call-in to the Clinton Library on Oct. 20 about the nonpartisan, philanthropic work of the Clinton Foundation, which has received the highest ratings from the Better Business Bureau and other organizations that monitor nonprofits.

Gov. Hutchinson speaks on Oct. 20 at 9:30 a.m. at the Clinton Library, Congressman Crawford speaks at 10 a.m., and Dean Todd Shields of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas speaks at the luncheon.

We are inviting Members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation, but they tend to confirm later in the process. We will send more details about the agenda as we finalize them when it gets closer to the time of the event.

Key issues will include economic opportunity and equality, women amd minorities’ issues, investments for job creation and to improve our deteriorating transportation, housing and broadband infrastructure, and health care.

Women’s issues in the Delta: Issues regarding women and girls in the Delta will be among the key subjects for several reasons: because women still only receive 80 cents compared to a dollar for the same work, many households in the Delta are headed by women, only 27% of businesses are owned by women, violence against women continues to be a disturbing problem, and we want to recognize the many outstanding women leaders in the region.

Furthermore, the main session is at the Clinton Library, and the Clinton Foundation is a world leader regarding women’s issues thanks to President Bill Clinton, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton.

Conference is being shortened to finish early at 6:30 p.m. on the Oct. 19 opening session and in the early afternoon at 2:15 p.m. for the Oct. 20 main session-so please do not leave the two sessions right before the last few speakers are scheduled.

We know that people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and therefore we are shortening both sessions of the conference and ending them earlier than we did previously.

When we are concluding so early in the afternoon on Oct. 20, we would ask that you NOT leave at 1:30 p.m. or just before the last few speakers-all the speakers have excellent qualifications and if you leave a half hour earlier you will not save yourself any appreciable amount of time, but you will place the last few speakers in the very difficult situation of speaking to a very small group of people. Please think about this and stay until the meeting is over-it ends early in the afternoon.

In addition to Gov. Hutchinson, Congressman Crawford, and Chelsea Clinton, we have already begun confirming some of the key speakers, including:

–Dean Todd Shields of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas, and Angie Maxwell, Director of the Diane Blair Center for Southern Politics and Society at the Fulbright College-they will be discussing their research regarding contemporary attitudes toward women and minorities and the impact on the 2016 election;

–Andy Lemmon, Program Coordinator, Arkansas & Mississippi Gleaning Network, Society of St. Andrew, nonprofit anti-hunger organization;

–Jennifer Johnson, Southern Bancorp Community Partners, Director of Public Policy, Madison, Mississippi;

–State Sen. David Wallace, (R-Leachville), who represents a district in the heart of the northeast Arkansas Delta;

–Bo Ryall, CEO of the Arkansas Hospitals Association, one of the most knowledgeable experts on Arkansas’ innovative Medicaid expansion program called Arkansas Works;

–Annette Dove, Executive Director of the great TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which works on hunger and nutrition, education, mentoring, job creation and related issues;

–Crystal Barnes, who will be president of the Pine Bluff High School student body in the coming school year, and is taking part in the TOPPS Dreams Require Educating and Motivating Students (DREAMS) program for mentoring and motivating young people in Pine Bluff; This year there are 24 graduates of the TOPPS program and 23 will be going to college and one will serve in the US Army;

–Millie Atkins, Co-Chair of the Delta Caucus’ national affiliate, the Economic Equality Caucus, and community leader in Monroe, Louisiana;

–State Rep. Warwick Sabin, a distinguished member of the Arkansas legislator who is Senior Director for the nonprofit institution Winrock International, which engages in exemplary activities across the country and the globe;

–Liz Young, Director of the Arkansas Women’s Business Center, a part of Winrock International;

–Mike Marshall, (INVITED) Executive Director of the Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and a veteran regional advocate for the Greater Delta region;

–Mayor John Mike Henry and Economic Development Director Steven Mitchell of Carbondale, Illinois indicated that the city of Carbondale will send representatives to discuss economic development from the standpoint of the southern Illinois Delta area;

–Jensyn Hallett, Heifer International, on their innovative anti-hunger and poverty work in Arkansas;

–Gary Latanich, Professor of Economics Emeritus, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro;

–Betty Dobson, Executive Director of a nonprofit in Paducah, Kentucky that commemorates the historic Hotel Metropolitan, where Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Ike and Tina Turner stayed in the Jim Crow era;

–Either CEO Sally Jones Heinz or another representative of the Memphis Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, a major nonprofit in Memphis;

–Billy McFarland, Judson College in Marion, Alabama in the Alabama Black Belt, Special Assistant to the President for business development; Judson College is in the process of establishing a new rural hospital in the heart of the Alabama Black Belt;

–Al Cross, University of Kentucky Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which is national in scope; Cross has recently written a scholarly work analyzing President Trump’s appeal to rural Americans in the Delta and across the country in his 2016 campaign;

We will include other speakers on job creation, infrastructure, health care, women’s issues and economic equality from all eight states of the Greater Delta Region from southern Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans.

As always we are glad to have Randy Henderson of Nucor Yamato Steel and Nucor Steel of Arkansas in Blytheville, and Priscilla Johnson, Executive Director of the Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission.

The state Capitol and the Clinton Library were chosen as the site for the regional conference because Arkansas is located approximately in the center of the region, and the Clinton Foundation and President Clinton have an outstanding legacy and continue to do great work for the Delta. Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton are among the world’s leaders in issues related to women and girls, among their other many accomplishments.


Thursday evening, Oct. 19, 2017, from 4:15 to 6:45 p.m. at the Rotunda of the Arkansas State Capitol

Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library


You register by sending in the early registration fees of $100 by Sept. 19.

Those who have paid their annual registration fees (minimum of $25) will have their registration fees reduced to $75 each.

After Sept. 19, registration fees go up to $125 each.

You can pay the registration fees either by going to the website at and using the PayPal process at the top of the website,


If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to our office in the Washington, DC area:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, Maryland 20601


If you can recruit a group of three additional people from your local area or network, we will reduce the fees to $60 each. This is to provide an incentive for people to recruit additional people to attend the conference to be there for the networking, to take part in question and answer as you wish, and to show support for the regional grassroots advocacy effort.

For the evening of Oct. 19, traditionally everybody goes to one of the many fine restaurants in the Little Rock River District, which is close to the Holiday Inn Preidential; the hotel’s Camp David restaurant is a very good restaurant and many people have dinner there and engage in additional socializing and networking after the opening session ends.


To get the reduced rate of $94 for the night of Oct. 19, please call the Holiday Inn Presidential at 501-375-2100 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group.

Most people will only need to stay one night, in order to reduce the costs. You can come to the opening session on Oct. 19, then check out on the morning of Oct. 20 for the main session, which ends at the early time of 2:15 p.m.

Again, we would ask people to be considerate to the last few speakers. There have been meetings where the meeting hall was full at 1:30 p.m. and then the great majority of people suddenly left, leaving the last few speakers with a very small number of people to address. When we are finishing so early in the afternoon and we only hold this event once a year, please stay that extra few minutes.

For a high-quality hotel like the Holiday Inn Presidential in the heart of the Little Rock River District and close to the Clinton Library, $94 is a good discount rate.