Delta Symposium XXIV: Discovering the Region’s Voices and Roots

Delta Symposium XXIV:  Discovering the Region’s Voices, and Roots Music Festival, April 11-14

JONESBORO – This year’s Delta Symposium theme is “Discovering the Region’s Voices.”  Participants will explore what it means to encounter voices from people in contemporary communities as well as throughout the region’s history during the 24th annual event, April 11-14.

The theme will be presented so that voice is understood both literally and symbolically through this multidisciplinary event, according to Dr. Gregory Hansen, symposium chair.  The event brings scholars, students, musicians, and artists from across the nation to the Arkansas State University campus to explore and experience the Delta’s history and culture.

The symposium is sponsored by A-State’s Department of English, Philosophy, and World Languages in collaboration with KASU FM 91.9 and the university’s Heritage Studies Ph.D. program.  Most sessions will take place in the Mockingbird Room on the third floor of the Reng Student Union (GPS: 101 North Caraway Road); the Roots Music Festival, co-sponsored by KASU, 91.9 FM, will be at City Water and Light Park (GPS: 1123 S. Culberhouse St.).

Wednesday, April 11

The symposium will begin at noon on Wednesday, April 11, with an authors’ talk on the new book “Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950.”  Guy Lancaster, editor of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, and Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, professor of history, will discuss the new book as well as their individual chapter contributions to the volume.

Various media and panel presentations will continue throughout the afternoon. Wednesday’s events conclude with a presentation of photographs and media creations in the Union Auditorium at 7 p.m. Students and community members are invited to bring their photographs on a jump drive to display their work via computer technology.

Thursday, April 12

Events begin at 8 a.m.  Sessions will feature researchers and writers from across the nation.  Panelists will include historians, literary scholars, folklorists, filmmakers and photographers who will explore topics ranging from the preservation of historic sites in communities to the place of memory in the construction of a sense of place.

Janis F. Kearney of Writing Our World Publishing in Little Rock will give the keynote address at 1:15 in the Mockingbird Room.  The author of numerous fiction and non-fiction works, she also is the former diarist of President Bill Clinton. Kearney will speak on the work of the Maya Angelou Project, and she will also discuss her work with historical African American presses in Arkansas.

Thursday’s events will culminate in a special presentation of music, creative writing and poetry held at the Bradbury Art Museum. This event will begin at 6 p.m. with an opportunity to view the exhibit “Everything is Going to Be All Right” and other installations in the museum.

An open-microphone song circle will be held that evening, and the night will finish with readings by invited writers. Janis Kearney will read from her fiction and non-fiction work, and A-State alumnus Terry Minchow-Proffitt will read from his collected poetry.

Friday, April 13

Friday’s events also begin at 8 a.m. with additional panels and media sessions. At 11 a.m., writer in residence Arthur Flowers, a professor at Syracuse University, will be the day’s featured performer. He will present “Hoodoo Lords of the Delta: Practice, Pedagogy and Prophecy” in the Union Auditorium. Flowers is an acclaimed writer and brings his own experiences growing up in the Mississippi River Delta to his creative writing and performance poetry.

Saturday, April 14

Saturday’s events will begin on campus at 9 a.m. with special presentations on the music of the Delta. Writers and researchers will present their research on the musicians with roots in the region, and sessions will explore the music of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and other recording artists.

On Saturday afternoon, the symposium will conclude with the “Arkansas Roots Music Festival,” an outdoor event featuring roots music in a range of genres at Jonesboro’s City Water and Light Park.  The event begins at 12 noon and runs until 5 p.m.

A range of musicians will take the stage, including Wilkinson-James, the Side Street Steppers, the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, and the Arkansas Brothers. In case of rain, Saturday afternoon’s events will be moved to the Humanities and Social Sciences Building at A-State.

For further details, one may contact the Department of English, Philosophy and World Languages at (870) 972-3043 or visit the symposium website,

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