Tuesday, September 20, 2011

why i love memphis

Today I'm blogging with friends, the topic is what we like about the places that we live.


The Mighty Mississippi
I moved to Memphis from Maine 12 years ago. I have always lived within a short distance of a large body of water - first the Atlantic, then Lake Michigan, then back to the Atlantic. The Mississippi is beautiful and has a rich heritage that one can learn about at the Mud Island River Park.

The Music
Home to Beale Street, which some claim to be the birthplace of the blues. Elvis and Isaac Hayes lived in Memphis, Al Green is a preacher at a local ministry, and Aretha Franklin was born less than 2 miles from my house. Sun studio is still around and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a great place to visit.

Beale Street
Diversity
According to the 2000 census, Memphis is 61% African American, 34% white, 2.9% latino (I suspect that's higher now), followed by Asians and Native Americans.

The Art Scene
Memphis has a wonderful, thriving visual art scene. There are two designated arts districts  that host special events like regular gallery walks. Public art is springing up everywhere thanks to the Urban Art Commission. We are home to The Dixon Gallery and Gardens as well as the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. I used to work as the Assistant Curator of Education at the Brooks and the institution is sacred to me, as are all of my friends who still work there. The National Ornamental Metal Museum is perched on a beautiful stretch of the Mississippi River and I am lucky enough to have an exhibition there through January 7th.

A History of Struggle and Strife
Memphis was a major port for slave trading and exchanging cotton. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed here in 1968. The Lorraine Motel where he was shot still stands and is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum. Like most American cities we still struggle to achieve racial harmony.

The city has seen much controversy over Forrest Park, the memorial grave site of Nathan Bedford Forrest - a cavalry leader in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and the Ku Klux Klan's first Grand Wizard. Each year Civil War reenactors celebrate Forrest's birthday in the park, while others stand by and protest.

Nathan Bedford Forrest memorial and grave

Yes, it's an ugly history. Good or bad, Memphis was in the thick of all of it. Why cite this as a reason to love living here? Because it was and is a reality, and we still have so much to learn from our past.

The Weather
Lastly, I love the climate here, I've lived in some very cold places. We have four distinct seasons, winter is very mild and most of the foliage reimains green. Folks put out pots of pansies in January, I love it. I've even come around to the heat.

Please visit my friends to read about their respective cities:



2 comments:

  1. So many of our southern cities have difficult pasts don't they. Haven't been to Memphis in quite some time, but would like to visit again to check out the art and music. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete