NATCHITOCHES – The late Terrel Delphin Jr., founder and leader of the Creole Renaissance, was inducted into the Creole Hall of Fame during an inaugural induction program in Lake Charles. The program honored several individuals who have contributed to Creole culture and the public’s awareness of Creole culture. Delphin, who passed away in 2012, worked tirelessly to bring awareness of the Cane River Creole culture to a national and international audience.
“We thank everyone who worked so hard to get to this point,” said Lillie Delphin, Mr. Delphin’s widow. “This is a wonderful way to remember our loved one.”
Loletta Wynder, project coordinator for the Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State University, and Sheila Richmond, community coordinator, accepted the award on behalf of Delphin family. The Creole Heritage Center at NSU was a sponsor of the Creole Hall of Fame inaugural induction ceremony.
Delphin’s family has deep roots in the Cane River area. After working in law enforcement for 18 years, he joined the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, holding a number of positions, including assistant commissioner for the Office of Animal Health Services. He retired from state service in 2005 and became the coordinator for the Office of Homeland Security and the Office of Emergency Preparedness in Natchitoches.
Delphin was active in his church, historic St. Augustine Catholic Church, and in his community for many years. His desire to protect and promote the Cane River area led to his involvement with the St. Augustine Historical Society and later serving as the president for a number of years. He advocated on behalf of his community with the Louisiana Board of Regents to establish the Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State and served as chairman of its advisory council. He assisted in developing an ethnographic study of the Cane River Creole community for the National Park Service, served on the state committee for the National Register of Historic Places, co-chair of the Cane River National Heritage Area Commission, and was a board member of the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission. He was known as the “Father of the Creole Renaissance-Resurrection” as seen in the LPB documentary, “The Spirit of a Culture - Cane River Creoles.” He also worked to establish the Civil Rights Hall of Fame in Natchitoches.
As a tribute to his abilities to cross cultural lines and encourage multicultural interaction, the City of Natchitoches declared March 29, 1997, as Terrel Delphin Day. He received the Creole Center’s Historic Preservation Award in 1999 and 2003. The Natchitoches Police Jury presented him with the “People’s Involvement Award” for his work in Creole heritage preservation and he was named “Cane River Mayor.” Delphin was named a Natchitoches Treasure in 2007 and in 2011, Northwestern State awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his work in bridging cultural and racial gaps through multicultural education, harmony and cooperation.
“With the influences of Nicholas Augustin Metoyer and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dad wanted to cultivate a better quality of life for all people and I am very proud of him,” said Delphin’s daughter, Daphne Delphin.
Last year, the Delphin family established the Terrel A. Delphin Jr. Scholarship at Northwestern State University.