By Scott Coopwood
Back when I was growing up in Shelby, the Mississippi Delta was isolated from the rest of the world. Only a small portion of people around the globe knew or cared anything about our region. And mostly, those were a handful of rock musicians (who had grown up listening to our blues music) and a few civil rights scholars.
Then, things began to change in the mid ’80s when blues music grew in popularity. People wanted to see where this genre of music was born. This was the beginning of the greater world becoming interested in the Delta.
Today, people from all over come to the Delta to soak up our culture. A few days ago, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, who is worth $53.6 billion, visited the Delta.
The story begins two weeks ago, when Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale received a call from a woman in Palo Alto, California, asking when Ground Zero was open. She also asked specific questions about the rooms above the club available for overnight rental, and she asked about the blues bands from the area. Ground Zero wasn’t open the particular night the woman on the phone wanted to visit. So, she quickly took care of that problem and rented the entire club so it could be open, and she rented all of the 11 rooms above. Ground Zero was happy to accommodate! A few days later, a security team arrived to take a look at the club and Clarksdale in general. At that point, no one at Ground Zero knew who was coming, but from the security detail, they figured it was no doubt a celebrity. That’s really nothing new to Ground Zero; they accommodate celebrities all of the time. But, a security detail that would rival the President’s Secret Service team? That was something Ground Zero had never seen.
Zuckerberg, who lives in Northern California, plans to visit every state in the U.S. in 2017. He started his journey in the South, and he and about 25 of his security team, assistants and a few photographers from Facebook, arrived in Clarksdale this past Tuesday at Morgan Freeman’s invitation. Morgan had recently met Zuckerberg and told him about Clarksdale and the Delta. That prompted his visit.
By all accounts, Zuckerberg enjoyed his visit to the Delta and told several he will return to see more.
We all talk about building the Delta and moving the region forward. Bringing people here to visit us like Mark Zuckerberg and educating them about our region, should certainly be part of the strategy. Thank you, Morgan, for this opportunity. You do so much for the Delta and our state, and we are all very grateful.
Scott Coopwood is a seventh-generation Deltan who lives in Cleveland, Mississippi with his wife Cindy and their three children. Scott is the publisher and owner of Delta Magazine, one of the South’s leading lifestyle publications, the Delta Business Journal, the first business publication in the Mississippi Delta; and Cleveland’s weekly newspaper, The Cleveland Current.
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