Marks, Martin and the Mule Train is a third person chronicle of Marks, Mississippi as the origin of the Mule Train component of the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign. The book begins with the backdrop of living conditions in Marks, a small town in theMoreMarks, Martin and the Mule Train is a third person chronicle of Marks, Mississippi as the origin of the Mule Train component of the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign.
The book begins with the backdrop of living conditions in Marks, a small town in the Mississippi Delta, mired in abject poverty during the transition period when farm implements displaced field hands. More than half of area residents had left the cotton fields to work in factories “up north.” But those that stayed home were devoid of jobs and many were hungry.It was this pervasive sense of hopelessness and widespread hunger that struck Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his two visits to Marks in 1966. His first visit was made to preach the funeral of a marcher who had suffered a heart attack while engaged in the James Meredith March Against Fear from Memphis, TN to Jackson, MS.
Allegedly, Dr. King asked some black junior youth what they were going to be when they grew up. Their responses drew tears from the Civil Rights leader when summarily they acknowledged no future because of their skin color. The second visit also aroused tears empathy when Dr. King and Dr. Ralph David Abernathy watched a teacher feed her students four apples and a box of crackers for lunch. Southern public schools declined to accept federal aid for free and reduced meals to sidestep integration. These observations in Marks convinced Dr.
King to follow the suggestion of Marian Wright Edelman to lead a Poor Peoples Campaign for jobs and justice.Dr. Abernathy writes in his book And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, that Dr. King wanted the Poor People’s Campaign to begin “at the end of the world,” in Marks, Mississippi. And so it did. Even though Dr. King was assassinated on April 14, 1968, his inspired Mule Train left Marks on May 14, 1968.
The 1, 000 mile journey took a month to complete but 28 wagons pulled by 56 mules paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue on Juneteenth (June 19)1968 as the centerpiece of the Poor People’s Campaign. The Mule Train fulfilled one of Dr. King’s dreams.