Delta State University (Cleveland, MS)


A Mississippi Blues Trail heritage marker at the grave site of blues artist Charley Patton. The marker has text about Mr. Patten, several photos, a a facsimile of a plastic 45 rpm record on top

A Mississippi Blues Trail heritage marker at the grave site of blues artist Charley Patton in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Photo courtesy of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University

Delta State University, one of eight state universities in Mississippi, is home to the Delta Center for Culture and Learning (DCCL). The mission of the interdisciplinary center is to promote the history and culture of the Mississippi Delta region and its significance to the world.

In FY 2005, Delta State University received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $10,000 to support the Mississippi Blues Trail, which will include the creation and installation of heritage markers, directional signs, and interpretive maps. DCCL will champion the project for the university, collaborating with the Mississippi Blues Commission.

The Blues Trail's markers will be installed adjacent to historical sites, each featuring photographs and text illustrating the lives and times of seminal blues performers. Each installation will be unveiled with a public ceremony accompanied by live performances of blues music and academic and oral history presentations. The trail is modeled on the highly successful Civil War Trails of Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The primary goal of the Blues Trail is to celebrate Mississippi's contribution to blues music, one of America's first indigenous art forms. Ten initial sites have been identified, including Muddy Waters's home site in Stovall; Charley Patton's grave site in Sunflower County; Nelson Street in Greenville, a famous historic black entertainment district;  Robert Johnson's grave site at Little Zion Church in Leflore; and WJPR radio station, where B.B. King first performed on the air as a member of the St. John's Singers.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)