Lay Down Your Burden by the River (Mississippi, That Is)
Dr. Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, and Stephen Fox, lecturer in architectural history at Rice University, will lead us on an exploration of the extraordinary culture of “the most southern place on earth.” The Mississippi Delta is unlike anywhere else in America. It holds the roots of a unique nineteenth- and twentieth-century society whose influence—through its agricultural economy, literature, music, and civil rights struggles—is felt throughout the world.
Our journey will begin and end in Jackson, Mississippi. The tour starts with a visit to the Jackson home and garden of Eudora Welty. We will travel through the stomping grounds of other Delta greats, like Walker Percy, Shelby Foote and Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, and Craig Claiborne.
From Jackson, we travel by bus to the heart of the Delta and our hotel in Greenwood, the famous Alluvian, owned by Viking Range Corporation and one of Condé Nast Traveler’s “Best Hotels in the World.” At the Alluvian we will see a fine collection of Mississippi art and later visit with Maude Schuyler Clay, a former photographer in residence at Ole Miss, in her hometown of Sumner. We will explore the Delta Blues Trail to the music of Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson; we’ll experience the blues firsthand at Po Monkey Lounge in Merigold, and savor authentic Delta dining at Lusco’s in Greenwood and Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville.
Although the historic plantation economy of the Delta is inextricably linked to slavery, important civil rights milestones took place here. We will visit the site in Money where Emmett Till allegedly flirted with white store owner Carolyn Bryant and the courthouse in Sumner, site of the the trial following his brutal murder. Charles McLaurin will speak to us at the Ruleville grave site of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. We will also see Mound Bayou, an independent black community founded in 1887 on the utopian principles of Robert Owen.