May 05

Memphis, TN

by in North America, Tennessee, United States

Named for the city of Memphis in Ancient Egypt, Memphis, TN took us three hours to drive to from Nashville. Despite being even further South than Nashville, I got the sense Memphis had better racial integration. Both cities are roughly the same size (between 600k-700k population) and are rich in musical heritage. We did 3 major things in Memphis:

1 – Visited Graceland: We took a tour of the estate of “The King”, Elvis Presley. Neither of us are Elvis fans but this was something we had to check out. Two things struck me at Graceland. First, Elvis was a twin. His older brother was stillborn 35 minutes before the King made his entrance into this World. Second, despite being a big star, he was drafted into the army and spent 2 years in service between 1958 and 1960. Whatever I think of war, the fact that he was drafted and had to comply despite being a super-celebrity is impressive because it indicates the draft system was relatively free of corruption and equitable between individuals, even if it was inequitable to the group as a whole. The United States ended conscription and moved to an all-volunteer force in 1973, which has had several benefits but on the whole I feel has been negative because it’s made going to war too easy for most Americans because on average they are less likely to know a soldier personally. Sending people to war should be an involved and difficult decision and yet today the US is fighting the longest war in its history and hardly anyone notices. War should be taken more seriously.

Graceland

Graceland

2 – Hit the Beale Street Music Festival: While we didn’t buy tickets to the concert itself which was quite affordable at under $40, Beale Street itself was teeming with activity and jazz music so we happily took in these freebies.

Beale Street

Beale Street

3 – Visited the American Civil Rights Museum: This museum includes the Lorraine Motel where MLK Jr was shot and killed in 1968. We learned a lot we didn’t know about the fight for African American civil rights, too much in fact to include in this post. I’ll just say I was surprised by how much we didn’t know and that it was a longer and more painful struggle than I had previously thought.

MLK_tile

National Civil Rights Museum. At right is room 306 where MLK was staying and in front of which he was shot and killed.

We also took in the Mayweather-Guerrero fight at a nearby Fox & Hound pub, and had the best fried chicken yet on our trip at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. It really was exceptional chicken!

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