It was a great day. Spent the morning and afternoon in Nashville, and made the 200-mile drive to Memphis in 3 hours. If I realized anything over the course of the past few days its that Tennessee is a LONG state. Interstate 40 takes you from one end to the other...all 450+ miles. I have new found respect for the state...the Smokies on one end, Music City in the middle, and the Mississippi on the other end.
Back to Nashville for a few moments. Its a beautiful city filled with excitement and culture. On my trolley tour, I learned that Nashville's four main industries are: Healthcare, Music, Tourism, and Finance (in that order). When we passed Music Row, the tour guide noted that 89% of all songs from record labels in the USA are written in Nashville, and the city clearly has a musical feel. From a Civil Rights Movement standpoint, however, the city is incredibly frustrating. I don't understand how a city so important to the CRM...where its college students took Gandhi's (and Martin Luther King Jr.'s) philosophy of non-violent direct action and inspired an organized movement of successful sit-ins throughout the South...could ignore this role COMPLETELY. When you visit the 5th Avenue Arcade area where thousands of young people conducted sit-ins, went to jail, and were beaten emotionally and physically there is nothing. No museum, not even a sign. Nashville has a museum for Charlie Daniels of "The Devil went down to Georgia" fame, but it doesn't have a marker highlighting the CRM. I don't understand. The only remaining relic from early 60's is a a Walgreens...hence the picture above. Back in the early 60's, this Walgreens had a lunch counter that John Lewis and Diane Nash helped integrate.
Memphis will be different. Its a city that has embraced its role in the CRM. The city leaders used the most tragic event (Dr. King's assassination) of the CRM and turned it into an opportunity to educate future generations. More on Memphis tomorrow.