Delta Jewels Oral History

On Feb. 17, Delta State hosted The Delta Jewels Oral History event. The event took place in the Jacob Conference Center in Ewing Hall. Alysia Burton Steele graced the event with her presence as the guest speaker. Steele was also there on a tour promoting her book Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.

Steele moved to Mississippi to teach photojournalism at The University of Mississippi. As a mixed woman, she faced many challenges in her life that resulted in name calling and not being able to attend school like a normal student. She was raised by her grandmother, who was her “everything,” which was a topic during her speech.

Steeleā€™s inspiration for her book was her grandmother. She never had the opportunity to interview her grandmother, so she decided to interview women of her grandmother’s caliber that shared morals and values. During Steele’s speech, a feeling of sadness came over the room. The subject of her grandmother brought tears to many eyes. She lost her grandmother 20 years ago and still mourns.

The Delta Jewels are a group of older African American women from Methodist Church’s that range from Charleston to Yazoo City. They are known as mothers of the church. There mission is: To promote greater understanding of the Mississippi Delta culture, history, and its significance.