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April 25, 2023

HATTIESBURG, MS (April 25, 2023) – 

One of Hattiesburg’s most recognizable figures is the inspiration behind the city’s newest mural. Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art (HAPA) and Mississippi Rising Coalition partnered today to unveil “The Family.” This original design celebrates Oseola McCarty’s family values and many contributions to the community.

McCarty achieved national recognition after donating her lifetime savings as a laundress to establish a scholarship fund at The University of Southern Mississippi. Her initial gift of $150,000 in 1995 is now an endowment named in her honor. As of 2022, 126 students from Southern Mississippi have received support from the Oseola McCarty Scholarship totaling nearly $600,000.

The mural is fittingly located at the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center, which serves the community’s youth through civic activities, including after-school mentoring, tutoring, food programs, and a summer youth camp. The center’s mission “to empower youth to win in every area of their lives” aligns with McCarty’s commitment to investing in Hattiesburg families.

“We are super excited to be the site for this mural honoring Miss Oseola McCarty. One of her famous quotes was ‘Family is the greatest blessing in life.’ We are continuing her legacy here at the center as we strive to work with our community’s families,” said Janet Baldwin, executive director of the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center.

“The Family” is Hattiesburg’s 44th large-scale mural. HAPA’s mission of providing art as a free part of everyday life in Hattiesburg focuses on adding murals and sculptures to all districts and neighborhoods of the city.

“As Hattiesburg’s public art continues to grow, we are increasingly intentional in celebrating the true diversity, creativity, and foundations of our community,” said VisitHATTIESBURG Executive Director Marlo Dorsey. “It’s an honor to recognize the incredible contributions of an icon like Miss McCarty, while bringing inspiration to youth through a vibrant, larger-than life mural.”

The mural is the collaborative work of three local artists, Ricardo Moody, Willie L. Cooks III, and Sidea Cooks. Moody is an established Hattiesburg creative with multiple works on the HBURG Public Art Trail. He mentored the Cooks, who are both young adults previously served by the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center. The trio was tasked with designing and painting a cheerful wall honoring the legacy of McCarty, while featuring a diverse group of neighborhood families.

“Murals always involve a collaboration of the artist working with the community and the community interacting with art,” said Moody. “It was a pleasure to work as an advisor and assist with the painting of ‘The Family.’ I believe this mural will be an asset to build stronger unity in the surrounding neighborhood.”

This 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.

For a map of all public art stops in Hattiesburg, visit HAPA’s Facebook and Instagram pages or

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A program of VisitHATTIESBURG, HAPA began in 2014 through the leadership of community members and generous donors passionate about publicly sharing art and making it accessible to all. HAPA continues to purchase and place art throughout the city – in parks, neighborhoods, public buildings, and businesses – while also raising awareness for works of art already in the area. The organization is partially funded by VisitHATTIESBURG, Mississippi Arts Commission grants, the City of Hattiesburg, and other local organizations and individuals who believe in the importance of public art.