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.

Please Register for Delta Conference in Little Rock on Nov. 7-8: Infrastructure, Jobs, Education

Posted on September 13, 2019 at 11:58 AM

Please register for the annual Greater Delta Region conference in Little Rock on Nov. 7-8, 2019. We are only seven weeks away now. Registration information is below.

We will focus on a broad range of infrastructure issues including transportation, levee improvements and flood control, housing, water programs, and broadband access expansion, to create jobs and improve our infrastructure. We always include education, health and nutrition, Delta Heritage tourism and related issues as well.

We will be announcing the formation of the Delta/Little Rock Partnership for Progress: although we all know that Little Rock is much more urban and much of it is more affluent than the Delta. Yet it is adjacent to the Delta, certainly has some diverse, economically distressed neighborhoods that have a lot in common with our region, and there are key issues we can work on collaboratively in transportation infrastructure from Little Rock to Sikeston, Missouri, Little Rock to Memphis, Little Rock to southeast Arkansas and beyond in the region, the Arkansas Works health insurance program, diversity, levee improvements on the White, Arkansas, Mississippi and other regional rivers, and many other regional initiatives.









You register by paying the registration fees, which are $75 for those who paid their annual membership dues and/or attended the West Memphis Delta conference this spring, and $100 for those who have not paid annual dues for calendar year 2019.

GROUP DISCOUNTS: If you can organize a group of four or more people, we will reduce the discounts further to $40 each.

The easiest and fastest way to register 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


OPENING SESSION–Thursday evening, Nov. 7, from 4:45 to 7:15 p.m. at the Arkansas State Capitol Rotunda

(Note: There is an informal socializing/networking dinner at the group hotel Holiday Inn Presidential Camp David restaurant right after the opening session ends a little after 7 p.m.)

FRIDAY MORNING AND LUNCH–Friday, Nov. 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Robinson Center Ballroom overlooking the Arkansas River


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.

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.

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: 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.

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.

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.


We would like to appeal once again—as we have throughout our history going back to the 1990s–for unity and finding common ground to speak as much as possible for a broad consensus of many voices all across the region.

This is vital for all eight states of the region. We would like to focus here on the Arkansas Delta. Arkansas has always been tremendously supportive of the Delta Caucus and we could not have succeeded without such great involvement from our many Arkansas colleagues.

We support all other efforts for the community and economic progress of the Arkansas Delta, and of course the rest of the region. We support all other initiatives and organizations from diverse professions, racial, gender and ethnic groups, geographical areas, Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, advocacy groups as well as direct service organizations.

We seek to find as much common ground as humanly possible. While no group can speak with a monolithic voice for all people on all issues at all times, we can develop a broad consensus of support for many key initiatives. We feel sure that everyone will agree with us that duplication of effort or projects that are not inconsistent with an inclusive, unifying regional approach are not productive and we can’t support them. But the vast majority of the people understand and enthusiastically support the concept of collaboration and unity, especially in today’s environment where too often there is too much divisiveness.

Any short summary of “common ground” will leave something out, but let us suggest the following as among the initiatives that can gain widespread support:

–Job creation at good wages is the category that is related to virtually all the others. This includes attracting large plants as well as promoting small business that is such a dynamic engine for economic growth. As so many great leaders have emphasized, the best anti-poverty program is a good job; Education and workforce development–if we can develop a well-trained and well-educated workforce, we will be able to fill more and more jobs. This is crucial for a brighter future for the region;

–Health care—we have cited the example of the Arkansas Works health insurance expansion in Arkansas, which passed with the leadership of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (after his predecessor, Gov. Mike Beebe, began the program) and a bipartisan coalition of state legislators;

–Nutrition–Unfortunately, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Kentucky rank near the bottom in food insecurity, and the other states only fare somewhat better. We must support USDA SNAP and other nutrition programs and the direct service and advocacy work of organizations like the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Hunger Free America, Feeding America, the Food Research and Action center and others;

–Infrastructure–transportation, housing, broadband access, water programs, levee improvements and flood control;

–Natural resources and the environment—we have the blessing of great natural resources all across the Delta and we need to be sure and preserve the environment for future generations;

–Energy policy—we support biofuels and other alternative energy sources, as well as energy efficiency programs to reduce costs;

–Investment incentives—we support a range of incentives for investing in economically distressed areas, including Opportunity Zones, initiatives similar to New Markets tax credit, Empowerment Zones, Community Reinvestment Act

–Agriculture—our region is one of the world’s great bread baskets, both in the large-scale row crops like rice, soybeans, cotton, wheat as well as fresh fruits and vegetables and small farmers

–Support for the Delta Regional Authority—we were directly involved in the effort that led to the DRA’s creation in 2000, and continue to support their great work in job creation, training, workforce development, infrastructure, health care and other key initiatives;

–Delta heritage tourism—there is a wide range of tourism attractions in our region, from the blues, jazz, country and other musical contributions, literary giants with ties to the region like William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Robert Penn Warren and so many others, the attractions of our natural beauty, the Civil War, civil rights movement and other historic sites, newer projects like the proposed National Cold War Museum in Blytheville, Arkansas, and many others.

We are looking for “new blood” and new partners. We invite everyone in the Delta to join our unifying, positive approach.

A great example of a new partner in recent years is Rupa Dash, CEO of the World Woman Federation who organizes great conferences on women’s issues in Little Rock that includes Delta regional, national and even international leaders. She has spoken at our events and agreed to be a co-host for May 28-29, 2020 event we are holding at the Clinton Library to commemorate the 20th anniversary of President Clinton’s Delta Vision, Delta Voices conference in Washington, DC in May, 2000. We will have funded announcements for the region’s economic development and re-dedicate ourselves to advocating for our region’s progress in the future.

Rupa Dash is a leader in the crucial effort to promote women’s issues such as including them in business, the professions, elected office, equal pay for equal work, and the whole range of key subjects in gender equality and justice.

We know there is a new group led by Arkansas Judge Raymond Abramson that is planning to bring additional partners into the Arkansas Delta advocacy movement. We welcome all new partners and invite Judge Abramson and his colleagues to merge with us in a joint effort for the Delta region.

We are open to any adjustments or suggested modifications in our work, and will give his group a prominent leadership role in the Delta Caucus. Again, we very much want to include all groups and bring in new leaders and partners.


As an example of our unifying, inclusive approach, we want to emphasize and make formal the longstanding collaboration between many leaders in the Delta and in Little Rock: the flooding issues are inter-related all over the state, the more diverse and economically challenged neighborhoods in Little Rock have a lot in common with the heart of the Delta, and there are health care, job creation, transportation and other infrastructure issues where it makes perfect sense to collaborate.

To make this explicit and as a marketing/communications tool, we are forming a bipartisan Little Rock/Delta advocacy committee and will announce its members soon.

We define the “Greater Delta Region” expansively to include the 8-state region and in Arkansas basically the eastern half of the state. Here are some of the many common goals Little Rock and the heart of the east Arkansas Delta can work on together:

Infrastructure, including the inter-related levees and other flood control systems, highways like the Interstate 57 project that will go from Little Rock through the northeast AR Delta to Sikeston, Missouri, I-40 improvements from Little Rock to Memphis, I-55, improvements from Little Rock to southeast Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, broadband access, housing (especially with the growing number of homeless people) and other infrastructure;

Support for the Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion program, led by Gov. Asa Hutchinson–many of the votes to pass it came from state legislators from east Arkansas and central Arkansas, such as Sen. Joyce Elliott and Rep. Andrew Collins in Little Rock, Sen. Dave Wallace, Leachville, Rep. Monte Hodges, Blytheville, Sen. Keith Ingram, West Memphis, Rep. Vivian Flowers, Pine Bluff, Rep. Chris Richey, Helena, Rep. Reginald Murdock, Marianna and many others;

–Support for Opportunity Zones all across the state and region as well as other incentives for attracting business investment to economically distressed areas;

Diversity–Leaders of the Delta Caucus and in central Arkansas have similarities in promoting diversity, with many prominent women leaders, African Americans, and Hispanics;

The economically challenged neighborhoods with significant minority population do have a lot in common with the heart of the Delta, although we certainly include middle class folks in our priorities;

Little Rock is obviously urban and not in the heart of the Delta but it’s adjacent to it. We need to get away from any attitudes that may have a condescending tone that Little Rock and the Delta are very different and are two separate regions;

There are thoughtful, moderately progressive people in Little Rock, and folks who live in relatively affluent areas in central Arkansas who have a lot in common with our goals.

There are the obvious differences that Little Rock is urban, much of it is more prosperous than most of east Arkansas, and the prosperous areas and suburbs in Little Rock don’t need help to the extent impoverished areas do. Executive Director Lee Powell is not one who could be accused of bias against those affluent areas in Little Rock because that’s where he grew up. But help needs to go where it is most needed, above all to the most impoverished areas in the Delta like Helena, Pine Bluff, Marianna, etc., and there are also some areas of Little Rock that are struggling.

The formation of the explicit Delta/Little Rock Partnership for Progress is one example among many of our emphasis on unifying, inclusive approaches to regional development.