By Dona Yarbrough
For the last two years, I have served as a “native informant” of sorts for Emory students and staff traveling to build homes with Habitat for Humanity in Leland, providing tips for negotiating the Delta’s racial and religious politics. On both trips, students have commented that they did not realize that poverty like this existed in the United States.
Although Emory students’ experiences in Leland and with Habitat were meaningful, might a deeper understanding of the region foster critical thinking about a host of pressing issues? The story of the Delta throws into stark relief questions about environmental, economic, and social justice; about the color and sex of U.S. poverty; and about our willingness to invest in or write off particular areas of the country.
Thus, the Center for Women is partnering with the Institute for Liberal Arts and the Office of University-Community Partnerships to offer the undergraduate course Mississippi Delta: Poverty and Promise in America’s Poorest Region this spring.
Students will immerse themselves in the literature, music, history, and politics of the region before visiting it for spring break. In teaching the course, I hope to transmit not only knowledge of but also love for the people and places of the Delta. For more information on the course, click the link below.
Dona Yarbrough is director of the Center for Women at Emory. She earned her PhD in English at the University of Virginia and taught courses in literature, women’s studies, and queer studies at the University of Virginia and Tufts University before coming to Emory in 2008.