Self-Help and Empowerment in the Delta through the
Mound Bayou Legacy: Mound Bayou Community-University Collaboration Partnership

Community-UM Partnership

Much of the Mississippi Delta lacks access to resources and struggles with bitter poverty. The long-range goal of The University of Mississippi-Mound Bayou collaboration is development and refinement of shared work in which Mound Bayou serves as an incubator for translating research for multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary application in other Missis-sippi Delta communities.

The partnership was initiated in April 2011 in an effort to support the City of Mound Bayou in their plans for restoration, renovation, and re-use of the historic Taborian Hospital. Mayor Kennedy V. Johnson identified the two priorities of the community as 1) saving the remaining historic buildings and preserving the proud historic legacy of the city and 2) economic development.

The University of Mississippi takes a multifaceted approach to understanding and building healthy communities and this includes economic development, education, psychosocial development, and healthy lifestyle. All of these factors contribute to healthy communities and a condition of self-empowerment.

Because Mound Bayou’s founding was predicated on establishing the political and civil rights the members had been denied in society, it is possible that the unique experience of this community’s history is one reason why its government has played such a critical role in the provision and securing of services.

The collaboration’s work will be accomplished through the examination of current promising practices and exploration and implementation of action research. An interdisciplinary approach provides opportunity for greater depth and breadth of knowledge discovery through a systems approach to community planning and development.

Current research supports an overarching empowerment framework for community practice, based on research from social work, community psychology, political science, management, education, women’s studies, and health studies. Linking multiple service learning courses, and professions or disciplines, to a single continuing project offers potential. The process advances student learning, and in particular, the critical thinking skills needed by students to understand complex issues and be able to carry out their civic engagement responsibilities. The process is also a means of collaborating with communities as an asset, supporting the already self-empowered community of Mound Bayou. We hope to translate that process of asset relationship with Mound Bayou to the ability to collaborate with other communities in the Delta in their own processes of self-help and empowerment, and resulting in healthy communities able to meet the economic, education, psychosocial development, and healthy lifestyle needs of their citizenry. This is particularly relevant to an interdisciplinary working group approach as a means of fulfilling The University of Mississippi’s and the School of Applied Sciences’ missions of enhancing the well being of the state, region, and world.



We have completed a number of projects with the Mound Bayou community.

  • Participation in the Mound Bayou September Fest, an event designed to develop outreach and to engage the community, on September 3, 2011
  • Conducted a Historic Preservation Workshop with youth in October 2011, focused on the history and importance of historic buildings in Mound Bayou
  • Conducted The Legacy of African American Self-Help and Empowerment: Community Welfare in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, the first service learning course to be offered by the University’s domestic study-travel program Study USA. Five graduate students and four undergraduate students spent seven days in Mound Bayou, and accomplished the following:
    • Completed an Asset Mapping for the City of Mound Bayou. This project included identifying every community asset, including housing, business, organizations, churches, employment, services, education, etc. This project will culminate in the production of an online database/map that can be linked to the City of Mound Bayou Web site and as a paper copy resource guide.
    • Inventoried and photographed all items in the Knights and Daughters of the Tabor administration building in preparation for renovation.
    • Completed cleanup of first floor and relocated important documents and items for preservation to a secure location in the City.
    • Attended a planning meeting with the Taborian Urgent Care Center Project and finalized the Department of Social Work’s participation in the Challenge
    • Initiated planning for a Youth Summit with Mound Bayou youth anda Regional Health/Allied Health Care Conference in Mound Bayou thissummer
  • Met with the archivist from Delta State and the librarian from Sunflower County to complete the assessment and recommendations for records storage and preservation, and then presented the recommendations to the City of Mound Bayou Project Team.


  • Deborah Freeland from the Division of Outreach and Katrina Sims, a Ph.D. student in history, continue to document the work being done. Faculty will meet with the Public History Coordinator of the Sunflower Library System who will assist us with the assessment of the historic documents in the building. The faculty will also meet with the local planning team of students and mentors/sponsors to continue planning for the Youth Summit to be hosted on the Ole Miss campus in June.
  • This spring the Department of Health and Exercise Science will develop a walking/exercise track for the community.
  • The School of Applied Sciences will host a Youth Summit on campus in June to develop a youth-led coalition for community development in Mound Bayou.
  • The School of Applied Sciences will deliver a regional health/allied health conference in Mound Bayou during the fall of 2012.
  • The Department of Social Work will develop clinical internships for MSW students to work with St. Gabriel Mercy Center, Taborian Urgent Care Center, and City of Mound Bayou Special Projects.
  • The Division of Outreach and the Department of History will collect still images, video, and a recorded history of the process and work of the Mound Bayou Community-University Collaboration Partnership for a documentary that can be shared with other communities.

Lottabusha County Chronicles

We traveled to Mound Bayou again on Saturday to meet with a group of youth and adult sponsors to do the first planning meeting for the upcoming Mound Bayou Youth Summit in June. Some of these youth attended the Historic Preservation Workshop in October. The Youth Summit is a way of involving youth as participating stakeholders in the community, in terms of civic pride, community development, and engaged participation in the future of the community. It was an incredible day!

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UM Social Work Faculty, Students Assisting Historic Preservation Project in Mound Bayou. Oxford MS - A team of University of Mississippi social work faculty and students is assisting the city of Mound Bayou efforts to preserve its historic buildings and history and to spur economic development.

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