Contributed to by Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University
Martin Luther King III visited Marks in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Marks Mule Train and his father’s Poor People’s Campaign for a week of events from May 7-13.
Mississippi State University Carl Small Town Center (CSTC) Director Leah Kemp was invited to the celebration to tour King through the multi-modal interpretive trail designed by the research center. The trail highlights the Marks Mule Train Civil Rights campaign, a vision of his father in the 1960s.
The Carl Small Town Center recently received two statewide awards for its “Marking the Mule” project, which focused on advancing citizen engagement in the Marks community – a 2017 Public Outreach Award from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association and an AIA Design Award from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
In July 2015, the CSTC was awarded a $25,000 Our Town grant by the National Endowment for the Arts to work with the community to vision a way to commemorate the historic civil rights campaign.
The yearlong public outreach campaign project engaged local residents, historians, architects and planners. The CSTC developed interpretive pedestrian and vehicle trails along with corresponding signage highlighting Civil Rights-related sites in Marks. They also designed a master plan for the designated Trailhead Park and built a welcome sign showing interactive maps for new trails.
Fred E. Carl Jr., a major Mississippi State benefactor and the Carl Small Town Center’s namesake, is a Greenwood resident who founded and served as the first president and CEO of nationally recognized Viking Range Corp. A one-time architecture major at MSU, he endowed the university’s statewide community design outreach program in 2004.
The Carl Small Town Center, a community design center at Mississippi State University within the School of Architecture, was founded in 1979 to help address issues faced by Mississippi’s small towns.