Cheryl Thornhill on Jan. 9, 2017

Cheryl Thornhill, executive director of the Museum of the Mississippi Delta,  stands in front of a quilt made by fabric artist Yolande van Heerden and students who participated in the museum’s “The Power of Children” activities last summer.

The Museum of the Mississippi Delta has been named by the Mississippi Humanities Council as the recipient of a Public Humanities Award.

Cheryl Thornhill, the museum’s director, said everyone at the museum is excited about the honor.

“Our award, the Humanities Partner Award, recognizes an individual or organization that has collaborated with the council to broaden its scope and reach new audiences,” Thornhill said.

The award recognizes the museum for activities associated with “The Power of Children: Making a Difference,” a traveling exhibition that came to Greenwood last summer.

The exhibition, produced by the Mid-America Arts Alliance in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, told the stories of three children who faced adversity and triumphed over it to change the world they lived in.

The museum developed programming around each of those stories.

In association with the story of Anne Frank, the famed diary writer forced to go into hiding with her family during the Nazi regime, the museum brought in a program on Jewish traveling trunks by the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, and local Holocaust survivor Ilse Goldberg spoke to a large crowd at the museum.

For the story of Ryan White, a young hemophiliac who was forced to leave school when he contracted HIV/AIDS from a tainted injection, the museum presented a specialist in HIV/AIDS prevention to Greenwood Middle School students and other groups.

To commemorate the brave and difficult life of African-American Ruby Bridges, who was just 6 years old when she walked through protests to integrate the New Orleans Public School System, the museum partnered with Delta State University in an oral history program conducted with 10 people who talked about their lives and childhoods in the Delta.

To wrap up the entire exhibit, local fabric artist Yolande van Heerden coordinated construction of a quilt with 48 children from the community. The quilt hangs permanently now in the museum’s lobby.

An awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 10 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, with a reception and silent auction preceding it.

Other awards to be granted at the ceremony include the Preserver of Mississippi Culture prize, presented to author Richard Grant for his memoir, “Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta.” Grant’s book, the top bestseller in Mississippi for 2016, is set largely on a plantation near Tchula and includes a number of scenes set in Greenwood.

Contact Kathryn Eastburn at 581-7235 or keastburn @gwcommonwealth.com.

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