The lovely city of Memphis in Tennessee is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, which is south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers; the city is positioned in the southwestern area of Tennessee. According to the United States 2010 census, Memphis (named after Memphis, Egypt) had a population of 662,897, making it the largest city in Tennessee; the 3rd largest city in the southeastern part of America; and the 20th largest city in the United States. The greater Memphis area not only includes Memphis, but also encompasses adjacent counties in Mississippi and Arkansas, and in 2010 the population exceeded over 1 million people, and reached 1,316,100 people. Only Nashville, with a population of 1,589,934, surpassed Memphis as the largest metropolitan area in Tennessee, which only happened in recent years. Although, Memphis is the youngest major city in Tennessee, it reflects strength in its own right. Unfortunately, Memphis’ reputation has been plagued with negativity stemming from the violence, and having carried the long-time stigma of the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, but the citizens of Memphis offer so much more than that. This American city has given us many cultural contributions that we take for granted, and many great musicians have come from the Mississippi Delta that include the greats like: Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, W.C. Handy, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. Jones, Al Green, The Sylvers, and Justin Timberlake has proven to be a powerhouse hasn’t he.
According to the 2010 census, there were 63.3% African Americans living in Memphis, and that high percentage just may contribute to the present stigma of the city. It’s funny because the higher number of African Americans residing in a city, the higher the stigma is attached to that city. It’s strange because the higher number of African Americans living in a city, the worse the media becomes at doing their job of representing the truth about the city and its people. It’s just funny and strange, that’s all. It’s just real ignorant and bias, that’s all. What’s even worse than the media is how people judge before knowing, and as an effect become duped by the misconceptions, lies, or bias reporting of people who don’t want to reveal the beauty of a majority Black city. That’s how we do in America, so in order for you to see the truth then you must travel to the city to see the beauty for yourself, and it might be a good idea for your travel guide to be a native who can show you what the city and its people truly offer. A native or non-native who’s familiar with all aspects of the city is an appropriate tour guide for an exploration of what the city has to positively offer. Here comes the preemptive strike. Yes, there are many cities with a low number of African Americans that receive bad press too, but it’s the cities with the highest number of African Americans that get all or mostly bad press. Well, one aspect of Memphis that won’t receive bad press now will be the history of Black Memphians.
Memphis has a rich African American history, and attracted many freed Blacks who moved to Memphis for economic opportunities and the priceless education at the various Freedmen Schools around the city. One of these schools was located on a popular street named by the people, “Main Street of Black America,” but its true location is at the corner of Main and Beale. On weekends, “Main Street of Black America,” became a medley of vaudeville clubs; black showgirls; young men in zoot suits; great restaurants; homemade ribs, chili, and other choices of food, and where illimitable musicians got their chance at the famous Palace Theatre. The neighborhoods weren’t the only lively and great part of Memphis, but Robert R. Church contributed to the city by becoming the first African American millionaire. Church was a business owner, and that business afforded him the opportunity of being the owner of a mansion near Lauderdale Street. Church’s wealth allowed him to establish Church Park and Church Auditorium; legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie performed at Church Auditorium. (A random fun fact is Ella Fitzgerald (the Queen of Jazz or First Lady of Song) was the aunt of singer Christopher Williams). A teenager at the time, Elvis Presley, along with Isaac Hayes, David Porter and Steve Cropper were drawn to this area of Memphis and adopted the sounds of the music that was created in that area. The strength of Memphis doesn’t end with the music scene but Memphis also contributes to America’s economic wealth by providing the country with wondrous diversified firms.
According to Memphis Business Journal (The Business Journals), Black Memphians lead in business ownership by being the leading minority group in the city to own companies, and they have succeeded in business growth even though they’re now struggling because the Memphis banks have slowly stopped loaning to Black businesses. This sounds all too familiar. Oh, that’s right! Black businesses in Detroit are suffering from the same issue, and have been for years now. Oh dear, how far will leading American companies go to separate themselves from Black businesses, and how long will the banks play this game of not supporting American Black ownership?
Memphis, Tennessee holds a top ranking of being one of the best African American cities, and definitely earns its boasting rights for economic potential and entrepreneurial opportunities. And according to Tennessee Department of State, the study of the most powerful African Americans in Tennessee reveals that Nashville surpasses Memphis in being the better city for African Americans to live and work in, but Memphis outperforms Nashville when it comes to African Americans being in power or powerful positions. It helps that the citizens of Memphis reelected the Black mayor, A.C. Wharton Jr., who believes that Memphis can be a city of choice for people, families, and businesses of a diversified background.
Memphis also has an amazingly beautiful Botanical Garden that will showcase the 2012 Japanese Festival starting on September 7th, that’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of the gift of cherry trees from Japan, while people are serenaded by local Japanese musicians, as sushi is provided for guests. There are many enjoyable activities, events and social outings that Memphis offers but isn’t largely promoted in the news, or by people for that matter. If you’re looking for a nice vacation spot, or are a sushi fan then you may want to explore the Memphis Botanical Garden.
Attractions like the Memphis Botanical Garden isn’t the only beauty that the city has to offer, but Memphis also offers Children’s Museum of Memphis; Memphis Zoo; Shelby Farms Park; Mississippi River Airboats tour; National Civil Rights Museum; B.B. King’s Blues Club; Blind Bear Speakeasy; East Tapas and Drinks; Silly Goose; Mississippi River Cruises on the American Queen Steamboat; Alex Haley Museum and Interpretive Center; C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa (Native American Temple); The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange; and Fire Museum of Memphis. Memphis is huge on celebrating African American history, but recently the city has implemented the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art that showcases and uncovers the important collection of Asian art in the southern region of the United States. While you’re visiting Memphis you may want to discover the Pink Palace Museum to enjoy the amazing exhibits and wonderful IMAX theater, see how the millionaires lived during the 1800s in Victorian Village, and explore the beauty of the city through the Art Museum of the University of Memphis. There’s just so much to do in Memphis that it’s quite overwhelming, so go to this site to see everything.
Not only does Memphis offer the world amazing attractions but recently Global Trade Magazine has ranked Memphis at 24 on its “Top 50 Cities for Global Trade.” It seems likely that Memphis will only advance in the future, as it continues to flourish. To see the full list of “Top 50 Cities for Global Trade” click here.
Memphis will bounce back and regain their good reputation if we just do our job and not buy into the inaccuracies, falsities, and bias information that are placed upon us. So, the next time, instead of contributing to the misconceptions or stereotypes of a city maybe you’ll break the unknowledgeable chain and venture into cities such as Memphis; you may just be surprised at what you discover.
Memphis isn’t only a historically relevant and great city, but Memphis came in at second place for American cities with the highest number of Black owned companies. So, kudos to Memphis. According to ABC, the top 5 major leading cities for African American owned businesses are as follows: Detroit with the highest percentage of Black-owned businesses within the city limits at 64% and that percentage doesn’t include Metro Detroit, the lovely city of Memphis coming in second with 38%, the wonderful city of Baltimore almost beating Memphis with 35%, the great Atlanta placing at 31%, and we can not forget about the admirable Washington D.C. that came in at 28%. Other major cities included on the list were Chicago and Houston. There’s still a long road ahead, but it looks optimistic.