“Through the long, hot summer and the long cold winter, Delta Ministry looks ahead: to a total ministry, to growing self-respect and self-determination among delta Negroes, to a bold new start for some.” So begins the text of a wonderful brochure (found in the SHC’s Delta Health Center Records) that tells the story of the Delta Ministry.
The Delta Ministry was a project begun in 1964 by the New York-based National Council of Churches to provide support to African Americans in the Mississippi Delta region. The project not only sought to bring economic aid to black Mississippians but also encouraged voter registration and greater political involvement. According to Mark Newman’s 2004 book, Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi, the Delta Ministry began with a 10-year mandate but ended up stretching its support for the citizens of the Delta into the 1980s. This, according to Newman, filled the vacuum created as other civil rights organizations, such as SNCC and CORE, discontinued similar programs of support for poor blacks in the Mississippi Delta.
The group has a fascinating story, much more deftly told by Newman’s extensively-researched book than I could do in this space. The organization’s history deserves greater attention, it deserves even more ink from historians writing on the legacy of the American Civil Rights Movement. As an intro, we hope you’ll read and enjoy this Delta Ministry brochure. Click on each thumbnail to see a larger version of the image. Finally, if you’re interested in digging deeper, there are other great materials in Box 59 of the SHC’s Delta Health Center Records.