The National Civil Rights Museum—Memphis

If you have only one thing to do in Memphis it should be to visit the National Civil Rights Museum . Even though I have lived through a lot of The Civil Rights Movement I found this museum to be highly informative and an emotional experience.

You can easily spend the whole day there. There are many exhibits and interactive features. It is highly emotional and moving. After three hours we were drained. I don’t know if it was planning but across the street is the Blues Hall of Fame. We found it to be the perfect palette cleanser after our emotional upheaval. We sat in the listening booth and saw great performances that eased our souls.

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National Civil Rights Museum

National Civil Rights Museum

National Civil Rights Museum

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Memphis Street Art

In spite of the fact that the population of Memphis is 62% African American it wasn’t until 2017 that Civil War statues were removed from the city. This mural expressing the horrors of lynching is near the National Civil Rights Museum. It is a grim reminder that the Civil War was not the end of racial hatred in the USA.

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Memphis Street Art

Stax Records–Soulsville USA

A lot of people if asked, might say Detroit is the home of Soul Music. Hitsville U.S.A. is the nickname given to Motown’s first headquarters. It was purchased by Motown founder Berry Gordy in 1959. However two years earlier Stax Records was founded in Memphis Tennessee. It was later dubbed Soulsville USA.

The Motown and Stax sound were the roots of American soul music. They were more similar than different. However, you could say that the Motown sound fueled by the Funk Brothers was smoother. Stax artists like Otis Redding and Carla Thomas had their roots a little more in gospel and their music was more emotional.

Visiting the Stax Record Museum is a must for anyone visiting Memphis. More than Graceland it explains the soul of the region.

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Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Soulsville USA

Beal Street

In Austin it is six street, in New Orleans it is Bourbon Street, in Chicago it is Rush Street and in Memphis it is Beal Street. This is where you go if you want to hear live Music and in most places it is blues music that you will hear.

Memphis is a famous Music City. Most people think of Nashville when they think of live music which is fine if you like country music. However, Memphis is the birth place of soul. Stax Records was known as Soulsville USA and Sun Records is where Elvis Presley and many others recorded.

In 1956 B.B, King moved from Mississippi to Memphis and founded his own record label, Blues Boys Kingdom, with headquarters at Beale Street in Memphis. He opened his first Blues Club on Beal Street which is still serving live music and Barbecue.

After his death B.B. King’s body was flown to Memphis. A funeral procession went down Beale Street, with a brass band marching in front of the hearse, playing When the Saints Go Marching In. Thousands lined the streets to pay their last respects. His body was then driven down Route 61 to his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.

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Beal Street Memphis

Beal Street Memphis

Beal Street Memphis

The Memphis Queen

My wife and I met on a River Boat 50 years ago. It was a paddlewheel ship called the The Gateway Party Liner in Pittsburgh. It was a party cruise with Archie Bell and The Drells. So it seemed right that visiting Memphis as tourists we should take a cruise on The Mississippi River.

We boarded The Memphis Queen and cruised down river a little bit to the south. We then turned and headed North and cruised under the bridges crossing the Mississippi learning the history of rivers boats on the Mississippi. We also learned a lot about the history and culture of Memphis in the 90 minute cruise. It was fun and inexpensive.

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The Memphis Queen

L’ Shana Tova

Tonight is the beginning of one of the most sacred holidays in Judaism: Rosh Hashanah. I can’t help but wonder what services would look like in the beautiful Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is known for its Red Light District, Canals, Coffee Shops and Museums. Nestled in this backdrop is one of the great Synagogues of the world. It was built by Spanish Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition. Since Holland and Spain were at war with one another, those escaping persecution said they were Portuguese to gain entry in to the country. Many Synagogues in Europe today restrict access due to persistent anti-Semitic feelings. However the Portuguese Synagogue is open for visitors for a small fee. You can also attend services on Friday or Saturday without paying a fee. The entire Synagogue is lit by candles and there is an excellent Judaica store where you can buy beautiful souvenirs and find out about the history of the building.L’shanah Tovah (Happy New Year!)

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Portuguese Synagogue Amsterdam Holland

Sunset over David Lawrence

A train leaving the city in front of the David Lawrence Convention Center. Pittsburgh at Sunset taken from the deck of the Hienz History Center.

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Pittsburgh Sunset