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Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 250 miles, approximately 4 hours with stop. Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m. Walking about ¾ mile along Beale Street in the afternoon; two blocks from hotel to restaurant.
Morning: Our program will move by motorcoach from Birmingham along Highway 22 to Memphis, TN, where we will conclude our civil rights study. We will watch an educational video along the way.
Lunch: We'll enjoy lunch and a lecture about Beale Street at a well-known restaurant there. Lunch will be from a select menu with three entrée choices to choose from including sides and coffee, water, soft drinks and tea. Additional beverages for purchase.
Afternoon: After lunch, with our expert as our leader, we will make our way along Beale Street where we'll learn about black Memphis businessman Robert Church, who made a good investment buying land along Beale Street after the yellow fever epidemic in 1878. This wise purchase led him to become the first black millionaire in the South. Beale Street was the commercial district for black Memphis, housing department stores, tailoring establishments, grocery stores, funeral parlors, and the Memphis Free Speech newspaper. On Beale Street, B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, Memphis Minnie, and Muddy Waters were just a few of the jazz and blues legends who helped create the style known as “Memphis Blues". We’ll stand in front of Beale Street Baptist Church, the first brick church built in the South by black people for black people. From the Historical Society marker outside the church: “Founded in the late 1840s by Rev. Morris Henderson and four other blacks, Beale Street Baptist Church is the oldest continuous Negro congregation in Memphis.” The impressive towers were originally much taller but were damaged by natural disasters. Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt were among prominent visitors. We will check in at our hotel at the conclusion of the Beale Street field trip.
Dinner: Dinner will be at a local restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. It will be a plated meal including coffee, tea or water. Additional beverages for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; approximately 90 minutes. Walking and standing at museum for at least 2-3 hours. Walking 0.7 miles from museum to hotel, or getting on/off a trolley.
Breakfast: In the hotel lobby, we will enjoy a buffet breakfast, featuring hot and cold dishes, plus coffee, tea, water.
Morning: We'll be joined this morning by a local African American expert on the history of black music in Memphis. On board, with our expert, we will hear the stories and history of the music that infiltrated Memphis in the 1920s and the struggles and difficulties endured during this time. What better way to learn how the music of Memphis fits into the Civil Rights story than visiting Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The Stax Museum follows in the pioneering steps of Stax Records that was a major influence in popularizing “soul” music. The record company, founded in 1957, was based in a converted movie theater with unusual acoustics that gave its recordings a distinctive sound. Also distinctive was the fact that the staff and artists were integrated and collaborative at a time of racial tension and strife. This state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of soul music and the artists who recorded here. We'll walk around the Manson Temple Church of God in Christ, the site of the last sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King before his assassination at the Lorraine Hotel. It is still an active congregation so we will not be going inside. C.H. Mason, founder of the largest Pentecostal church in the world, is enshrined in the church building. We'll also ride past Booker T. Washington High School, winner of the Race of the Top Commencement Challenge, where President Barack Obama came to Memphis to speak at their 2011 commencement. Alumni of Booker T. Washington include Benjamin Hooks, Director of the NAACP; Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington DC; Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire; and many more noted black Americans. We'll end our field trip at a popular restaurant noted for its especially great barbeque.
Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. There are several restaurants that are across the street from the National Civil Rights Museum. Our transportation will drop us nearby so you may select the one that suits you.
Afternoon: At a designated time, we will all gather at the National Civil Rights Museum. This privately owned complex of museums and historic buildings was built around the former Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. We’ll follow a timeline that charts the course of events around the assassination and the impact and legacy of the civil rights movement. The museum is self-guided to allow participants to experience oral histories, films and interactive components at their own pace. It is recommended that we allow a minimum of 2-3 hours to go through the entire museum campus. Across the street from the Lorraine Motel is the Legacy Building, which was the boarding house from where the assassin's shot was allegedly fired that killed Martin Luther King. Take as much time as you like to go through the various buildings that house the museum, Lorraine Motel, and Legacy Building. You may return to the hotel at your own leisure by walking the six blocks (0.7 miles) or by taking the trolley at the top of the street from the Civil Rights Museum to within two blocks of the hotel. The Group Leader will explain the walking or trolley route options.
Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Standing and walking, stairs at Slave Haven house. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: This is our final day in Memphis before we depart each other’s company on Wednesday morning. We will begin the day with a wrap-up of the week and what we have learned on our civil rights journey. This will be led by our Group Leader or by one of our instructors we have had along the way. We'll discuss civil rights in the 1960s up until today. A good place to end our journey is the controversial Slave Haven Underground Railroad. Shrouded in secrecy and questioned by historians as to the accuracy of the Burkle Estate, we will sort through the facts versus the fiction of the home said to be a haven used to help slaves escape to freedom via the underground railroad network. The house has 19th-century furnishings but its main feature is the secret cellar and trap doors that offered refuge to runaway slaves. This dark cellar was their home for days as they sat silently waiting for boats that would take them to other way stations upriver on their way to freedom in the northern states. After stepping down into the cellar and kneeling on the brick floor of this cramped room, you definitely get a deeper understanding of the slaves’ plight.
Lunch: On your own.
Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Dinner: At a popular local restaurant, we’ll listen to live blues as we dine on a plated meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Time to go out and enjoy more music. Our dinner at King’s Palace Café waives the cover charge at nearby Rum Boogie Café serving up hot music. We’re in the heart of old Memphis, where W.C. Handy wrote the first blues song in 1909. Music surrounds you.
Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.
Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!