This project aims to revitalize and restore the historic Marks Community Park at the intersection of Mississippi Highways 3 and 6. The park and the surrounding area serves as a gateway into the City of Marks, and we hope to improve this area for the enjoyment of the citizens of Marks and visitors to our City. Over fifty years ago, this park was the final stop prior to heading east on Highway 6 for the 1968 Mule Train – the first leg of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People Campaign (PPC) to Washington, D.C. Approximately 100 men, women and children from Quitman County, along with Civil Rights activists and supporters participated in the historic PPC. Our community continues to promote the county’s civil rights and cultural tourism history and we are committed to engaging stakeholders from all walks of life in our conceptual planning process for Marks Community Park.
City and County officials have reached an agreement for the site of the permanent home for the Hall of Fame to be the Town of Marks, Mississippi. The National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame was founded in 2010 by Lamont Robinson and has inducted many of the most notable figures in Rhythm & Blues in annual ceremonies held in various cities. Robinson cited the tremendous history of the area related to Music and Civil Rights among several reasons for deciding to place the Hall of Fame in Marks.
The location of the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame Museum and Entertainment Village in Marks and Quitman County will provide a natural, authentic, and historic platform for the Hall of Fame. The founders intend to showcase the origins and future of rhythm & blues in a variety of specifically-designed educational and interactive experiences and attractions, allowing visitors and tourists to partake in a truly historic setting.
This project was made possible through the funding of a 2018 National Park Service African American Preservation grant (NPS) and the collaborative partnership with Mississippi State University’s Carl Small Town Center (CSTC). Residents and tourists can journey along the marked Mule Train Interpretive Trail to read, touch, and explore the content of each marker. These markers signify the locations and places where Dr. King, members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), noted celebrities, Freedom Riders, and hundreds of civil rights community organizers, as well as scores of local leaders and residents emerged; creating this civil rights history, which is now documented and artistically displayed on the eleven interpretive markers.
The Quitman County Economic and Tourism Development, Inc. is requesting funds for a county-wide Blight Elimination Project (BEP) to help demolish 125 blighted properties within the City of Marks, Town of Lambert, and all municipalities located within the boundaries of Quitman County. Once the blighted properties are demolished, the QC non-profit will work with the local stakeholders and homeowners to implement a strategic plan to transition these vacant lots for redevelopment or into greenspaces. These lots will become a part of the future neighborhoods’ redevelopment, which will ignite revitalization within these small rural neighborhoods and one day spark future affordable housing units.