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Tennessee

Signature City Memphis

Program No. 12347RJ
Learn the unique story of Memphis, from its blues and rock ’n’ roll to its National Civil Rights Museum, from the role of the Mississippi River to artistry of antebellum architecture.
Length
6 days
Rating (4.75)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,049

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At a Glance

Memphis — home of the blues, birthplace of rock ’n’ roll — beckons you to experience its panorama of history, heritage and culture, and discover what makes it special from the local experts who really know the city’s soul. Trace the transformation of the Old South into the New from King Cotton to the National Civil Rights Museum. Experience Memphis’ outstanding museums, beautiful parks and botanical gardens, and the distinctive architecture of its churches and old mansions. Take field trips to iconic places like Beale Street, Graceland and Sun Studios, and hear the music that reflects Memphis.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Learn the story of Memphis blues and delve into the lives of legends from the “Father of the Blues” W. C. Handy to “The King” Elvis Presley.
  • Study the mighty Mississippi River’s environmental influence.
  • Visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel to trace events of the movement and Dr. King's assassination.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign
by Michael K. Honey
The definitive history of the epic struggle for economic justice that became Martin Luther King Jr.'s last crusade. Memphis in 1968 was ruled by a paternalistic "plantation mentality" embodied in its good-old-boy mayor, Henry Loeb. Wretched conditions, abusive white supervisors, poor education, and low wages locked most black workers into poverty. Then two sanitation workers were chewed up like garbage in the back of a faulty truck, igniting a public employee strike that brought to a boil long-simmering issues of racial injustice. With novelistic drama and rich scholarly detail, Michael Honey brings to life the magnetic characters who clashed on the Memphis battlefield: stalwart black workers; fiery black ministers; volatile, young, black-power advocates; idealistic organizers and tough-talking unionists; the first black members of the Memphis city council; the white upper crust who sought to prevent change or conflagration; and, finally, the magisterial Martin Luther King Jr., undertaking a Poor People's Campaign at the crossroads of his life, vilified as a subversive, hounded by the FBI, and seeing in the working poor of Memphis his hopes for a better America. 16 pages of illustrations
Memphis Beat : The Lives and Times of America's Musical Crossroads
by Larry Nager
This book fills in what isn't so familiar: Memphis, it reveals, is our great cultural mixing board, where all the black and white folk have met and done musical business for two centuries or more. Larry Nager, former music editor of the "Memphis Commercial Appeal," offers more than a casual history. His chronicle reaches back into the nineteenth century, when Memphis was a wild frontier town full of whiskey, fiddle players, and minstrelsy. It hits cruising speed at the turn of the century, as W. C. Handy discovered the blues, women like Lil Armstrong and Memphis Minnie kept up with the men, and a Memphis deejay dreamed up the Grand Ole Opry. It chronicles the strange alchemy by which local rhythm 'n' blues, hard country, and black and white gospel got remade into powerful rock and roll in Sam Phillips's Sun Records studio on Union Avenue. The beat goes on into the '60s and the era of Stax and Hi Records - when the first integrated generations, raised on Sun 45s, started waxing their own sounds. And it follows Memphis even into contemporary times, through Big Star's adventures at Ardent Records, the difficult revival of Beale Street, and the birth of the House of Blues. There is triumph and tragedy here, and much in between - from the stalwart presence of lifelong musicians like Gus Cannon and Furry Lewis, through the horrific accident that killed Otis Redding, the Bar-Kays, and years and years of musical dreams.
My Life With Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Coretta Scott King
This personal, inspirational account of the history of the Civil Rights Movement describes the author's relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr., detailing their marriage, the events of the 1960s, and King's tragic assassination. Reprint. SLJ.
Elvis by the Presleys
by David Ritz
For the first time, the inside story of legendary entertainer Elvis Presley’s life as a husband, father, son, cousin, friend, spiritual seeker — Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, and other family members, come together to memorialize our greatest star in this stunningly illustrated companion to a major television special and longer-form documentary. Elvis by the Presleys is a uniquely fascinating treasure and serves as the essential companion to a major television special on CBS and, from Sony BMG, a longer-form documentary DVD and its related CD. Culled from hours of new family interviews conducted for the television special and DVD (much of it appearing exclusively in this book), enhanced with Elvis quotes, and illustrated with private family photographs and images of personal memorabilia from the archives of Graceland/Elvis Presley Enterprises, Elvis by the Presleys is an extraordinary document about an extraordinary figure.
Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture)
by Laurie B. Green
African American freedom is often defined in terms of emancipation and civil rights legislation, but it did not arrive with the stroke of a pen or the rap of a gavel.No single event makes this more plain, Laurie Green argues, than the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike, which culminated in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Exploring the notion of "freedom" in postwar Memphis, Green demonstrates that the civil rights movement was battling an ongoing "plantation mentality" based on race, gender, and power that permeated southern culture long before--and even after--the groundbreaking legislation of the mid-1960s. With its slogan "I AM a Man!" the Memphis strike provides a clarion example of how the movement fought for a black freedom that consisted of not only constitutional rights but also social and human rights. As the sharecropping system crumbled and migrants streamed to the cities during and after World War II, the struggle for black freedom touched all aspects of daily life. Green traces the movement to new locations, from protests against police brutality and racist movie censorship policies to innovations in mass culture, such as black-oriented radio stations. Incorporating scores of oral histories, Green demonstrates that the interplay of politics, culture, and consciousness is critical to truly understanding freedom and the black struggle for it.
Daddy King: An Autobiography
by Murtin Luther King, Sr.
Born in 1899 to a family of sharecroppers in Stockbridge, Georgia, Martin Luther King, Sr., came of age under the looming threat of violence at the hands of white landowners. Growing up, he witnessed his family being crushed by the weight of poverty and racism, and escaped to Atlanta to answer the calling to become a preacher. Before engaging in acts of political dissent or preaching at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he would remain for more than four decades, King, Sr., earned high school and college diplomas while working double shifts as a truck driver—and he won the heart of his future wife, Alberta “Bunch” Williams. King, Sr., recalls the struggles and joys of his journey: the pain of leaving his parents and seven siblings on the family farm; the triumph of winning voting rights for blacks in Atlanta; and the feelings of fatherly pride and anxiety as he watched his son put his life in danger at the forefront of the civil rights movement. Originally published in 1980, Daddy King is an unexpected and poignant memoir.
4 Reviews
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4.75 Average
(5) Review left 11/19/2022

A rich and warm experience for most who travelled through Memphis learning about the music of our country and it's struggles with freedom and civil right.

(5) Review left 11/19/2022

This is an excellent tour with interesting and informative sites every day. It is well paced and fun every day.

(4) Review left 4/29/2019

Overall our Memphis trip was worth it but not exactly outstanding in that there was nothing highly memorable. We had a very good 84 year old tour leader who was on top of everything. Most impressively he showed that 84 is the new 70. Re the food, the sit down meals with service were very good but the buffet meals were mediocre. The most disappointing was the dinner at BB King’s which was served from a buffet table in pans that they unsuccessfully used sterno to keep it warm. Fortunately we had dinner there on our free night so we knew that they are very capable of serving a very good meal. Re lodging, the Hampton is a good place to stay if you want to be at the center of Memphis life but unfortunately it was undergoing a major renovation which meant some noise, dust and delayed elevators. Most annoying was our room overlooking a small park where they allowed a band to play loudly until 10PM and if you woke up prior to 7AM you got to see the homeless being awakened by a city employee. Re the attractions, the only museum that was a waste of time was the Stax which is located in a depressed area and is NOT the original building. It is more of a tourist trap to sell souvenirs of that musical era. I would have allotted the time to the Rock and Soul Museum which was too big and had too much for the time we were given. We had some free evening time but unfortunately it closes at 5PM. The lectures were very informative and were value added to the trip. We felt that the four days of touring gave us a very good understanding of the flavor and culture of the area. This was true even for the tone deaf non-musical types like us who enjoyed it because it was very nostalgic of the music of our youth and allowed us to reminisce about the times and the people of our teen and early 20’s years.

(5) Review left 4/12/2019

We had such a wonderful time in Memphis! This trip was a perfect mix of fun, learning, physical activity, food and free time. Our tour guide, Jimmy, was a delight!






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