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Hattiesburg Alliance For Public Art Unveils 44th Large-Scale Mural, Dedicated To Oseola McCarty

May 2, 2023

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The Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art’s couldn’t have picked a much more suitable figure to honor for its latest large-scale mural than Oseola McCarty, perhaps the most well-known benefactor in the history of the University of Southern Mississippi.

The mural, titled “The Family,” was unveiled during an April 25 ribbon cutting by members of HAPA and the Mississippi Rising Coalition at the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center on McSwain Street in Hattiesburg. The design of the mural, which is HAPA’s 44th in the city, celebrates McCarty’s family values and many contributions to the community.

“When I saw that the them of this mural was ‘family,’ it seemed really appropriate, because there’s the family that you’re born with, and the family that you end up growing with,” Mayor Toby Barker said. “But the whole theme of a group of people coming together to raise up the next generation, I think is so indicative of who this building is named after and about the center itself.

“The idea that a group of people came together to foster the next generation, to make the next generation stronger – we have a lot of that going on right now. It’s such an exciting time to be here, and this mural is fantastic. We’re grateful to be here.”

The mural, which took approximately three months to complete, was designed and completed by three local artists: Ricardo Moody, Willie L. Cooks III and Sidea Cooks. It depicts McCarty in a rocking chair with a copy of the Holy Bible, surrounded by children playing and participating in a game of jump rope.

“It was great to help out and be a part of this mural,” Moody said. “I really hope that the mural itself can be a way to honor Miss McCarty and benefit this center, as well as this neighborhood, and even Hattiesburg itself.

“So I’m glad to have been a part of it, and I think today is an exciting day that we can show everybody here.”

A quote from McCarty that is featured on the mural reads “Family is the greatest thing in life.”

“We are just so grateful to be a part of the murals in Hattiesburg,” said Janet Baldwin, executive director of the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center. “When we were trying to come up with a quote (for the mural), that’s what we feel like over here at the Oseola McCarty center – family is a blessing.

“So that was our inspiration to do this mural, and we are so happy and honored to be a part of it.”

Kristen Brock, program director for HAPA, said the mural was especially important to the organization and the city, especially given the goal to make Hattiesburg “The City of a Hundred Murals.”

“Every single one we do is more special than the next,” she said. “Today’s (mural) is very special, because we are able to recognized one of Hattiesburg’s most beloved natives.

“We are just incredibly thankful that we’re able to continue the traditions of family and community values that (McCarty) started so many years ago.”

McCarty, a former washerwoman, revealed in 1995 that she had established a trust fund which stipulated at her death, a portion of her life’s savings would be used for scholarships for students needing financial assistance. Those savings, which amounted to about $150,000, were donated to Southern Miss after McCarty died from liver cancer in 1999.

The Oseola McCarty Endowed Scholarship at USM was soon after named in her honor.

In 2017, officials from the Hattiesburg Convention Commission purchased McCarty’s home – which was located on Miller Street in Hattiesburg – and later moved it to East 6th Street in downtown, where it will join the African-American Military History Museum and the Eureka School Museum as part of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission’s Museum District.

The McCarty mural project was supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. It joins 44 painted utility boxes and more than 60 permanent sculptures and murals throughout Hattiesburg, bringing to total stops on the HBURG Public Art Trail to over 100.

A map of all public arts stops in Hattiesburg can be found online at