Quitman County Receives $400K to Restore Historic Courthouse

In the near future the citizens of Quitman County will be able to get onto an elevator to access the second floor of the historic courthouse to attend public meetings and court proceedings. Obtaining this elevator was made possible through the Board of Supervisors’ submission of a proposal and resolution for the renovations of the 110-year-old courthouse building.

With this information, Senator Robert Jackson submitted a Senate Bill to request funds during the 2020 Mississippi Legislature Regular Session for this project. The renovations include exterior repairs and painting; installation of an elevator, and window restoration.

The elevator is crucial to the building to allow citizens with disabilities to access the upper level as the board continues to work to improve the accessibility and bring the courthouse into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The board members are appreciative to Senator Jackson for submitting this proposal to the Senate. Thanks to the Senator’s hard work and efforts, Quitman County was awarded $400,000.00 in bond funds for the project.

The Quitman County Courthouse was constructed in 1911 when the county seat was moved to Marks. Since then, the Courthouse has served the community as a very important building to the County, City of Marks,

and other municipalities. The two-story courthouse was designed by the Chamberlin and Associates Architecture Firm in the Neoclassical style and was designated a Mississippi Landmark in 1990.

The Board has made it a priority to improve the quality of services and the experience of its citizens at the Courthouse. Property improvements to dedicated parking around the courthouse square have recently been completed, and with bond funding the Board of Supervisors will continue to make improvements.

Belinda Stewart Architects (BSA) of Eupora, Mississippi will work with the Board on this project. They specialize in the restoration of historic buildings and have extensive experience with planning and construction. BSA has worked with the Quitman County School District on the restoration of Phase One of the Marks Rosenwald School, which is now complete. In 2019 BSA helped the school district receive additional funds from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for Phase Two of the Rosenwald Project.

The Board feels that they are a valuable partner in this significant project for the renovation to the Quitman County Historic Courthouse. To stay up-to-date with its progress, visit quitmancountyms.org or the Quitman County MS Facebook page.

Quitman County to Host Amtrak Station Ribbon Cutting

This project has been in the making for nearly three decades, and finally, in less than a month, the City of New Orleans Northbound Amtrak Train #58 will sound its whistle at a distance and slowly bring its engine to a stop on the tracks at the new Northwest Regional Amtrak Station at 285 Cherry Street in Marks, Mississippi.

Interior and National Park Service Grants

Interior and National Park Service Announces $12.6 Million in Grants
to Preserve African American Civil Rights History

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service today announced $12.6 million in grants for 51 projects in 24 states that preserve sites and highlight stories related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century.

The Marks Mule Train and MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign Interpretive Trail received $50,000.

Learn More

50th Mule Train Anniversary Event

Quitman County to Celebrate 50th Anniversary
of Mule Train March With “Rebuild the Dream” Symposium

(MARKS, MS) – In 1968 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., walked and marched down Highway 3 in Marks, Mississippi. Few would have imagined then that decades later the same main thoroughfare would bear his name. Dr. King’s three visits to Marks and Quitman County in the 1960s were during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement that highlighted social and political discontent and led to cataclysmic changes in our nation. While in Marks, Dr. King visited schools and homes of local leaders and spoke at several churches, rallying support from ministers, community leaders, and volunteers to help launch the second War on Poverty.

One of his lasting legacies, among many, is that of the Mule Train from Marks to Washington, D.C., as the centerpiece of the Poor People’s Campaign. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of these significant events, and organizers have planned a commemoration to honor all those who participated and their sacrifices. The four-day “Rebuild the Dream” symposium, scheduled for May 10-13, 2018, is designed to memorialize and celebrate those efforts.

Dr. King chose Marks as the starting point for the Poor People’s Campaign after witnessing heart-breaking poverty on a trip to the Mississippi Delta with the Reverend Ralph David Abernathy. The idea of the campaign to help fight the systemic poverty in the Delta had been suggested to Dr. King in the fall of 1967 by Marian Wright, director of Mississippi’s NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. This came after Ms. Wright, a 27-year-old Yale Law School graduate, convinced Senator Robert F. Kennedy and other lawmakers to travel to Mississippi as part of the Senate subcommittee’s look at War on Poverty programs. Their shocking findings of hunger in the population were well publicized throughout the country and deeply affected Senator Kennedy, which eventually helped bring the issue of food insecurity to light.

It was Sen. Kennedy’s idea to pressure Congress to act on food assistance programs, and Ms. Wright passed the suggestion on to Dr. King to mobilize a mass of poor people to come to Washington and stay until their voices were heard. Dr. King’s goal was for 2,000 people in dire economic situations to meet with government officials in the nation’s capital to help find solutions for the lack of jobs, fair wages, and equitable education opportunities that was pervasive in many places around the nation, but particularly in the Delta.

The march on Washington, D.C., was scheduled to take place in May of 1968, even though many thought the goal was too ambitious. After Dr. King was assassinated in April, Rev. Abernathy was determined to continue plans for the march. The first group of approximately 350 demonstrators left in early May by bus, and the second group left on May 13, in a caravan of more than fifteen mule-drawn wagons. By this time, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had taken the lead, using the opportunity to take their message throughout the South on the way to Washington. When they finally arrived, they met more than 50,000 others who cared enough about this cause to join in the demonstration.

Key commemorative activities that are part of the “Rebuild the Dream” anniversary include a community-wide prayer breakfast and evening reception followed by a banquet; a re-enactment of the students/teachers march by the Madison S. Palmer High School drama class; workshops and panel discussions on confronting persistent poverty, healthcare disparities, civil and human rights issues, and racial and economic equity. Other activities planned are tours along the Marks Mule Train Trail and the mule-wagon rides re-enactment featuring iconic Civil Rights speakers as well as a picnic in the historic Marks Roadside Park. The culminating event for the four-day symposium will take place on Mother’s Day, May 13th, with a gospel concert featuring the GRAMMY®-winning Mighty Clouds of Joy.

The organizers of “Rebuild the Dream” symposium are partnering with Dr. Charles Steele, the national president/CEO of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and extending invitations to the SCLC leaders and activists who were in Marks during spring of 1968 to help organize the Marks Mule Train and the Poor People’s Campaign. Some of the well-known activists who participated were Ambassador Andrew Young; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr.; Sidney Poitier, actor-film director and Academy Award winner; and Harry Belafonte, singer, actor and civil rights activist. Marian Wright, who eventually married one of Senator Kennedy’s aides, Peter Edelman, should also be recognized for her trips to the Delta as well as her tenacity in keeping the issues from fading away.

Dr. Hilliard L. Lackey III, historian, author and professor at Jackson State University is leading the organizers of the event. He has been a champion of promoting this history for the past forty-nine years. Part of his life-long mission has been to “Rebuild the Dream” to make sure this piece of civil rights history is remembered. Dr. Lackey said, “King’s visits to Marks were not hollow. The seeds he planted fifty years ago in the poverty-stricken Mississippi Delta have germinated.” He sees Dr. King’s dream as composed of teachable layers of tribulation that are not only unfolding, but intensifying the vision of King’s dream.

Tickets to the Mighty Clouds of Joy concert are $15, but all other events are free and open to the public. A special invitation is issued to those who took part or witnessed this occasion to participate in planned key events and help commemorate this era of civil rights that impacted millions of Americans through the educational, nutritional, healthcare, and housing programs that took root as a result of the 1968 Marks Mule Train and Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign.


Velma J. Benson-Wilson
PR Liaison – 662.388.1550 or 662.326.3520

Dr. Hilliard L. Lackey, III
Chairperson – 601.979.2434 or 601.955.8073

Marking the Mule Train Workshop

Marking the Mule Train Flyer

View Flyer PDF

On February 27, 2016, Quitman County held a workshop to interpret and commemorate the “Mule Train”, Marks’ contribution to the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968.

The workshop, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and organized by Mississippi State University’s Carl Small Town Center and Department of History, featured interactive centers and exhibits on the Mule Train and Marks.

The goal of the workshop was for the community to tell the MSU team what they wanted to see happen in Marks to mark the Mule Train.

View our Photo Gallery to learn more about this workshop.


Marking the Mule Train

mule-train-markerNEA Our Town Planning Grant

Marking the Mule Train:
Placemaking for Marks, MS

This project will consist of a 12 months planning period to develop a comprehensive cultural master plan featuring an interpretive trail and center in Marks, MS. The master plan will highlight and interpret sites of the historic 1968 Poor People’s Campaign “Mule Train.” within Marks. The Mule Train was a wagon train pulled by mules organized by the SCLC starting in Marks, MS and ending in Washington D.C. The protestors joined 3,000 others nationwide at “Resurrection City”, a tent city on the Washington Mall to protest the condition of the poor in the U.S. Marks had been visited twice previously by Dr. Martin Luther King and became a symbol to him of the plight of the poor.


Freedom Trail Marker News Release

Visit Mississippi will unveil the 20th marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail at 12 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 at 1098 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Marks, Miss. The marker commemorates the Mule Train/Poor People’s March, inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Read full article: WDAM.com

‘The City’ is coming to Marks

Amtrak service will stop in Delta town as early as spring 2016

The announcement that Amtrak will add a flag stop at Marks in the heart of the Delta is already generating quite a buzz in the Delta and beyond. Marks Mayor Joe Shegog recently did an interview with CNN about the stop in the middle of the Delta for people to hop off to visit Blues Trail sites and other attractions in the area.

Read full article: MS Business Journal