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National R&B Hall of Fame to be built in Mississippi Delta

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R&B hall of fame mississippi delta marks quitman
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The small town of Marks, Mississippi, located in the Mississippi Delta, will soon be the new location of the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

According to Velma Wilson, director of economic tourism and development for Quitman County, the project is expected to take around two to three years to complete. Marks, which has a population of fewer than 2,000 people, is the county seat of Quitman County. The hall of fame has been intended to be built for at least 50 years and hopes to honor famous R&B musicians such as B.B King and Aretha Franklin.

LaMont Robinson is the CEO of the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. He founded the hall of fame in 2010 and it has inducted over 200 artists since 2013. In a news release, he said, “There is no other hall of fame in the world that is primarily focused and dedicated to the history of R&B music on a national scale. My vision to build a hall of fame to honor R&B and its contributions to civil rights, America, and the entire world is something that I don’t take lightly.”

The reason he decided on Marks, Mississippi was in regard to its connection to the civil rights movement. It was the first place that hosted Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. The campaign aimed to achieve economic justice for all poor Americans. During his last Sunday sermon on March 31, he spoke on behalf of the poor families that lived in Marks, MS, and how Quitman county was the poorest county in the United States.

The music that is now known today as the blues, gospel and R&B was initially produced by field workers and civil rights activists in the harsh conditions of the cotton fields of Quitman County, along with other parts of the MS Delta. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as recently as 2020, Quitman County still had one of the 20 lowest median income levels of the entire country. Democratic U.S. representative, Bennie Thompson of Quitman County said, “The hall of fame will be the catalyst to Delta tourism growth and opportunities and a means to attract business and industry.”

The Quitman County Economic Tourism and Development agency has secured a $500,000 appropriation from Mississippi Legislature for project infrastructure. It is hopeful that another $11 million will be secured through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Multiple partnerships will still be required in order for this project to flourish to its fullest extent.

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