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.

Delta Conference in Little Rock Only a Month Away--Please Register If You Have Not Already Done So

Posted on October 03, 2019 at 11:39 AM

The Greater Delta Region conference in Little Rock is only a month away on Nov. 7-8, 2019, so please register if you have not already done so. You register by paying the registration fees and that information is below.

The opening session is Thursday evening Nov. 7 at the Arkansas State Capitol Rotunda from 4:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. The Friday morning and lunch session is Nov. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Robinson Center Ballroom overlooking the Arkansas River.

This conference will focus on transportation, housing, broadband access, levee improvements/flood control infrastructure, education, job creation, nutrition and related issues.


I. Nov. 23 Presidential Candidates Forum on Poverty in South Carolina—Brief Summary




NOTE–We do not expect people to read the entire in-depth newsletter–people typically look at the table of contents and scroll down to parts of interest to them.

I. Nov. 23 Presidential Candidates Forum on Poverty

The Delta Caucus and other regional and national organizations across the country are supporting the Presidential Candidate Action for Opportunity Forum to be held in rural South Carolina—in the diverse, economically distressed town of Manning SC that is very similar to many Delta communities on Nov. 23.

Caucus Director Lee Powell, Delta senior partner Wilson Golden will be there, and one of the questioners is Annette Dove, Executive Director of the great TOPPS, Inc. in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

We know that South Carolina is far from the Delta and most people from our region will not be able to attend, but we wanted you to know of our support for what will be a unique event aimed at getting poverty and economic opportunity on the radar screen of the Presidential candidates. As the key organizer Joel Berg, CEO of the national anti-poverty and hunger organization Hunger Free America has shown, in 50 Presidential debates from 2008 to the present not one question focused on hunger, poverty and homelessness. This event will change that glaring omission.

If anyone would like to attend the unique South Carolina event, please get in touch with Lee Powell at 202-360-6347 or

We should emphasize that in the next recession many middle class people will inevitably fall into lower income categories. Poverty is a concern for middle class people and everybody—the higher health care costs, substance abuse, crime, and lost productivity from poverty harm all populations in our society.


You register by paying the registration fees. These are $100 for those who have not paid annual membership dues, $75 for those who have paid their 2019 dues, and there are also groups who receive discounts for getting a group of people together to go to the event.

If you have any questions about registration, please contact Lee Powell at (202) 360-6347 or

The easiest and fastest way to pay the registration fees is to go on the website at and go to the PayPal link at the top of the site that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus 5030 Purslane Place Waldorf, MD 20601


The group hotel is Holiday Inn Presidential in the Little Rock River Market area. We have the group discount for $89, which is a relatively low rate for a good hotel in that area.

To get the discount rate for the night of Thursday November 7, please call the hotel at (501) 375-2100 and tell them you are with the Delta Caucus group.


Below is a tentative list of speakers who have indicated they will be able to participate at the Nov. 7-8, 2019 Delta conference in Little Rock:

We are inviting federal, state and regional leaders but they confirm usually much later in the process, often only a few weeks beforehand due to their hectic schedules.

We are inviting other speakers so this is a preliminary list.

In honor of the late great Carol Willis, champion of the Delta and one of the most trusted senior advisers to President Bill Clinton, we are recognizing a promising young leader who will follow in Carol Willis’ footsteps in working for positive change through the democratic political process through our annual Carol Willis Scholarship.

This year we plan to recognize Jeramie Alexander, a brilliant student at Philander Smith College in Little Rock who was elected Mr. Philander Smith College by jhis fellow students as exemplifying the best traditions of the college. He is involved in an organization that empowers young African American males, is majoring in social work and plans to pursue a law degree and master’s in social work upon graduating from Philander Smith.

Mr. Alexander is a student of Professor Tracey McElwee, Chair of the Philander Smith College Dept. of Social Work. Professor McElwee will be among our speakers at this event.

Carol Willis was one of most famous alumni of Philander Smith College.

We are announcing the formation of the “Little Rock/Delta Partnership for Progress” to deepen and make explicit the longstanding collaboration between Little Rock and the east Arkansas Delta in promoting community and economic progress in Arkansas and the rest of our region. Philander Smith College and other Little Rock institutions and leaders will have a prominent role at this conference and we will be sending out further information about this partnership.

Kay Goss, former Associate Director of FEMA (native Arkansan now based in the Washington, DC area) and nationally recognized expert on disaster relief issues. She emphasizes the need to take a pro-active, long-term approach to levee improvements and other responses to the flooding that has been getting more severe in recent years and likely will become even more serious in the future.

We want to include all the major rivers in the region—the Arkansas, White, Mississippi, Ohio and others.

Mayor Shirley Washington of Pine Bluff, Arkansas—her city had some of the worst flooding earlier this year, and they are working on a series of initiatives to repair the damage and prepare for future flooding. We are asking Mayor Washington to address flood control as well as other infrastructure issues and downtown revitalization in Pine Bluff, the largest of the heartland Arkansas Delta communities. Mayor Washington is a member of the state levee review task force appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber of Commerce and economic development corporation, formerly Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority: Mike Marshall will address a range of infrastructure issues, including the Interstate 57 project between Sikeston, Missouri and Little Rock—one of the examples of the logic for Little Rock/Delta collaboration in advocating for completion of this transportation artery across a significant part of our region.

Peggy Bradford, Shawnee Community College in southern Illinois—Ms. Bradford was formerly President of Shawnee Community College and is now engaged in a research project regarding economic development, education and related issues in the southern Illinois Delta.

Annette Dove, Executive Director, TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, Arkansas—Ms. Dove directs a great nonprofit in Pine Bluff that is helpful in nutrition, job preparation and training, educating, mentoring for at-risk and many other constructive activities in Pine Bluff, the largest community in the Arkansas Delta.

Victor Jones, Southern Poverty Law Center, New Orleans, Louisiana—he is an attorney working on cases for education and help for the youth of our region, based in the historic city of New Orleans. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a major institution working for justice across our region.

Alan Gumbel, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, Memphis, Tennessee, Interim Executive Director: Alan Gumbel is a long-time Delta regional advocates and does vital work on the vital issue of promoting a well-trained and competitive workforce.

Leslie Durham, DRA Designee for Gov. John Bel Edwards, based in the heartland Delta community of St. Joseph, Louisiana; the DRA is a federal-state agency and does a wide variety of constructive projects on job creation, workforce development, health care, infrastructure and other key issues for the region’s community and economic development.

Millie Atkins, Delta Caucus board member, long-time Delta regional advocate and community leader in Monroe, Louisiana: Ms. Atkins will address a number of infrastructure issues from the standpoint of Louisiana, including flooding that has become so much worse in our region in recent years.

Desha County Judge Richard Tyndall, southeast Arkansas–who will address the serious flooding damage in some areas of his county and how flood control is inter-related across the region. If a levee breaks in one place it of course has an impact on communities downstream. When the Arkansas River was flooding this year, the fact that the Mississippi River was also at a high level meant that the Arkansas levels could not go down as rapidly.

Sen. David Wallace, Leachville, Arkansas—Sen. Wallace represents a large part of the northeast Arkansas Delta heartland. He will speak from his standpoint as a professional expert on flooding and disaster relief.

Rep. Chris Richey, based in Helena, represents a state legislative district in the heart of the Delta—Rep. Richey will address the range of infrastructure issues from his standpoint as a state legislator in Arkansas. We are happy to report that the state government is engaged in a variety of constructive activities in the Arkansas Works health insurance program that has brought health coverage to over a quarter of a million Arkansans, education and workforce development, broadband access expansion, transportation improvements with increases in funding for highways, and other bipartisan initiatives. We are frankly getting a lot more done at the state and local than at the federal level nowadays.

Rep. Reginald Murdock, Marianna—Rep. Murdock represents a district in the heart of the east Arkansas Delta. He will address transportation improvements in the Delta and other infrastructure issues.

National Cold War Museum project in Blytheville, Arkansas at the old Blytheville Air Force Base—this project is a great example of the potential for Delta Heritage tourism to promote economic development by bringing in tourist dollars, while educating people about our region’s legacy. Blytheville Air Force Base was a major facility during the Cold War, and we will have a speaker from the city’s supporters (we understand it will be Elizabeth Smith of the Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce) of this great proposal.

Tomiko Townley, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance Director of Advocacy—Ms. Townley will give us an update on the state of hunger and nutrition in Arkansas, including efforts to help victims of the Arkansas River’s flooding this year through the disaster program of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Arkansas Rice Growers Association speaker—Arkansas is by far the leading rice producer in America, growing approximately half of America’s rice each year, and Mississippi, Louisiana and Missouri are also among the highest ranking rice producers. We will have a speaker from the Arkansas Rice Growers Association to give us an update on the rice industry, including the impact of flooding on this year’s rice crop.

Rep. Andrew Collins, Little Rock: Rep. Collins’ district in Little Rock suffered significant flooding from the Arkansas River this year and he is integrally involved in improving the flood control infrastructure. Rep. Collins is supportive of our efforts to continue and expand the collaboration and partnership between Little Rock and the adjacent east Arkansas Delta heartland.

International visitors—we always are glad to welcome groups of international visitors arranged by Toni Carr, Executive Director of the Global Ties Arkansas organization that brings leaders from across the globe to Arkansas to learn about our state, region and country. This year we understand we will have visitors from the Phillippines, Cambodia, Russia, and Georgia (the Georgia in Asia, not the one around Atlanta).

We are working on many other speakers and the program will be put together in early October.

IV. Release from Hunger Free America & other Organizers of the Presidential Candidate Action for Opportunity Forum to be Held in Rural South Carolina Nov. 23

Leading Poverty & Anti-Hunger Groups Collaborate on Event

Will Be Campaign Cycle’s Highest-Profile Event Aimed at Issues Central to the Lives of the 93 Million Americans Who Live In or Near Poverty

Low-income Audience Members to Ask Questions of Candidates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: October 1, 2019; Nicole Aber, (646) 627-7741,

Leading national and South Carolina nonprofit organizations will host a bi-partisan Action for Opportunity Forum, which will press all top-tier U.S. Presidential candidates of both parties to detail their concrete plans to increase economic opportunity for low-income Americans and to decrease domestic poverty, hunger, and homelessness.

{NOTE ADDED FROM DELTA CAUCUS—Annette Dove, Director of the TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, Arkansas will be one of the questioners. Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell and Caucus senior partner Wilson Golden (Mississippi native and board member of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Mississippi) will be there to represent the Greater Delta Region.}

Spearheaded by non-partisan national nonprofit groups Hunger Free America and A Place at the Table, the forum will be held on November 23, 2019 – the Saturday before Thanksgiving – at the Weldon Auditorium in Manning, South Carolina, in rural Clarendon County, which has a poverty rate double the national rate and a median household income 38-percent less than the national average. Ninety-three million Americans – nearly a third of the U.S. population – live near or in poverty, and many middle class Americans fall into poverty one or more times in their lives.

This event – which will be livestreamed online and open to the media – aims to be the highest-profile event of the 2020 Presidential campaign cycle to directly address the concerns of low-income Americans. Several hundred low-income people will be in attendance, with a number of individuals directly asking the candidates questions.

In addition to Hunger Free America and A Place at the Table, other non-profit groups co-sponsoring the forum include South Carolina Appleseed, the Low Country Food Bank (the Feeding America food bank for the Charleston area), the National Diaper Bank Network, Feeding Texas, the National Association of Social Workers-South Carolina Chapter, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Feast, Feeding the Carolinas, Food Research & Action Center, Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus (our italics added), WhyHunger, and the Progressive Policy Institute.

Chef, TV host, and food activist Tom Colicchio, co-founder of A Place at the Table said, “This event will be the highest-profile candidate forum to be driven by the concerns and questions of low-income and working class Americans. The audience at this event will challenge the outdated notion of low-income Americans as politically disengaged. In our democracy, all Americans — not just the ones who can pay lobbyists — deserve to have their voices heard.”

Said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Fee America: “Here’s a startling statistic: In the primaries and general elections of 2008, 2012, and 2016, there were more than 50 Presidential candidate debates, yet not a single question on poverty, hunger, or homelessness was asked. While this will not be a debate, it is intended to rectify that omission.

Economic opportunity will be central to the outcome of the current Presidential race, especially in South Carolina, where a third of Democratic primary voters had annual incomes below $30,000 and 61 percent had annual incomes below $50,000 in 2016. We want to ensure that the road to the White House must pass through a very robust, fact-based discussion on how to slash poverty, hunger, and homelessness, rebuild the middle class, and restore the American dream.”