It would not be an exaggeration to call the path to realizing the Museum Trail in Jackson as long and winding. More than a decade ago, David Pharr introduced research demonstrating the health and economic impact a multi-use trail could have on Jackson and surrounding communities. The project, which according to Pharr would serve to “tie the communities together and fill in the doughnut,” brought together an unlikely coterie of champions, including elected officials with seemingly competing interests.
However, the succession of six mayors in Jackson and slow economic recovery greatly impeded the progress of the trail. Time passed, costs increased, and city officials had to be reengaged — and re-convinced — to allocate resources and offer support for the project. The community members and organizations who started this journey back in 2009, including the Jackson Heart Foundation and the leadership of Clay Hays, MD, remained undeterred during that time, working to raise the funds needed to bring the project to life.
A six-figure donation from the John and Lucy Shackelford Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi was essential in filling in the funding gap needed to complete the project, because it unlocked additional funds from public and private sources. The Museum Trail officially opened in early 2021, connecting five museums and two city parks through three miles of trailway. Today, the trail stands as a testament to community, commitment, and constancy — hallmarks of the Community Foundation.