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Why the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame is headed to the small Mississippi Delta town

This image supplied by A2H Engineers, Architects, Planners on Aug. 18, 2022, shows digital rendering of the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in Marks, Miss. AP hide caption

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This image supplied by A2H Engineers, Architects, Planners on Aug. 18, 2022, shows digital rendering of the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in Marks, Miss.


JACKSON, Miss. A little town in the Mississippi Delta which has ties to the civil rights movement will be home to the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

Project planners desire to finish building the facility in the city of Marks in several years, Velma Wilson, director of economic tourism and development for Quitman County, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Marks may be the county seat of Quitman County and contains a population of less than 2,000 people.

The project may be the culmination of a 50-year effort to create a hall of fame for R&B musicians such as for example James Brown, Aretha Franklin and B.B. King.

“There is absolutely no other hall of fame on earth that’s primarily focused and focused on the annals of R&B music on a national scale,” LaMont Robinson, CEO of the NRBHF, said in a news release. “My vision to create a hall of fame to honor R&B and its own contributions to civil rights, America, and the whole planet is a thing that I don’t take lightly.”

Songs Of The Civil Rights Movement

Robinson founded the hall of fame in 2010. Since 2013, it has inducted a lot more than 200 artists.

Marks appealed to Robinson because of its civil rights history. Martin Luther King Jr. find the town in 1968 because the starting place for his Poor People’s Campaign, which demanded economic justice for poor Americans of most backgrounds. On March 31, 1968, in what will be his final Sunday sermon before his assassination, King described the poverty-stricken families he encountered in Marks.

“I was in Marks, Mississippi, last week, that is in Quitman County, the poorest county in the usa. And I let you know I saw a huge selection of Black boys and Black girls walking the streets without shoes to wear,” King said at the National Cathedral in Washington. “I saw their parents … They raised just a little money occasionally; looking to get just a little food to feed the kids; attempting to teach them something.”

The conditions in the cotton fields of Quitman County along with other elements of the Mississippi Delta were the surroundings where early civil rights activists and field workers produced music that’s now defined as blues, gospel and R&B, project planners said.

“It had been this cultural and musical phenomenon that provided the foundation for the prodigious economic success and profits of the U.S. music industry worldwide,” planners wrote in a document outlining the project.

By 2020, Quitman County had among the 20 lowest median income degrees of all counties in the united kingdom, based on the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The Hall of Fame would be the catalyst to Delta tourism growth and opportunities, and a way to attract business and industry,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who represents Quitman County.

The town of Marks donated 5 acres (2 hectares) of land for the project.

In accordance with an agreement reviewed by the AP, the Quitman County Economic Tourism and Development agency secured a $500,000 appropriation from the Mississippi Legislature for infrastructure linked to the project. The agency also hopes to secure an $11 million federal grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation to strengthen development round the hall of fame.

“Since there is significant energy and excitement in the project, additionally it is daunting for the QTED staff and can require multiple partnerships to achieve success,” the agency wrote in the agreement.

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