Blues Development Prognostication in 1990s - Skip on Point
[This historic article from the MZMF archives reveals so much about what could have developed in the Delta. As opposed to a thriving retail center that provides jobs and space for charities and community outreach groups, museum exhibits occupy such spaces and a bar, Ground Zero, drives the downtown district. On the very farm where the tractor was invented, a nostalgia-driven series of shotguns houses invokes the rural past and a couple of bars hire a few locals. Not too many folks worry about the potential of blues tourism...then again, things could be in better shape....the cemetery at Lyon, the segregated cemetery with one half in pristine condition called Shufordville Cemetery--one side has manicured landscaping and a fence protecting the grave markers and the other is covered with years of dead weeds, fallen trees, trash, dead and burnt foliage, among much more stuff--containing the graves of John Wrencher and Henry "Son" Simms is plain disgusting...go visit...see for yourself...TDM 2017]
|Skip Henderson in 2012|
I would like to thank the (Clarksdale, MS) Press Register for its coverage of plans for the development of downtown district, and take this opportunity to add a few items to the discussion. During my frequent visits to Clarksdale I am always struck by, the same impression, that of disbelief from local residents who express lingering doubt as to the actuality of Clarksdale becoming a 'tourist attraction.' Allow me to try to bring a little light to the subject. In 1991 a book called The Promised Land by Nicholas Lehmann, was published, to great acclaim. This nationally bestselling book spotlights Clarksdale as one of the most historically significant cities in America. Now a best-selling video and paperback, this book appears on college and university lists all over the country.
Clarksdale gave birth in 1944 to the first mechanized cotton picking operation, an enormous contribution to world agriculture. This development would in turn trigger the largest population shift in American history. It was during this perk' that the essential American musical art form of the Blues was sent from the Delta, focused directly through Clarksdale, to Memphis, Chicago, and the world.
|Early Wright giving out the Early Wright Award to Skip in 1993|
This brings me back, finally, to the subject of the Clarksdale Station project. Train stations are by definition places of wide public accommodation, and so it will he with Clarksdale Station, only taken a few steps further.
The Delta possesses a unique wealth of history and cultural identity unmatched anywhere else in the world; and identity not simply white or black but most essentially, and honorably, Southern.
|The dedication of Charley Patton's marker - 1991|
Thank you very much,
Skip Henderson, founder MZMF