Tag Archives: slavery

TWO KINGS

Living room at Graceland

Living room at Graceland

Visiting Graceland would not be my first choice of vacation destination, but if you’re doing a road trip which passes through Memphis, well, it would be foolish to not stop. I was still in single digit age when Elvis was ‘King’ but it didn’t stop a brief flirtation with the swivel- hipped heart-throb before allegiance passed to the Beatles. There’s very little I remember about him other than the early songs and a controversial appearance on

Trophy Room at Graceland

Trophy Room at Graceland

The Ed Sullivan Show when he was only televised from the waist up. So, my ideas on what I would see at Graceland were somewhat negative: I was wrong. If you accept that it is a time capsule of ‘70s décor and know the shag pile is coming your way, it’s all very well done. I did rather feel like I had stepped into The Twilight Zone at times, but

In the 'Jungle Room' at Graceland

In the ‘Jungle Room’ at Graceland

aside from that, enjoyed the visit. Of course, it’s all highly edited so no photos of Elvis in the bloated years are shown, no mention of divorce is made, and certainly no whiff of drugs. It’s the sanitized version of which Col. Parker would have approved.

After a lunch of Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken—one

Lunch at Gus'

Lunch at Gus’

hiccough in our healthy eating routine—we went on to the National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the Lorraine Motel. This was definitely not sanitized. It starts with a gut-punch on how whites kidnapped Africans in the 1600s, and goes on through the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. at that very same Lorraine Motel and the capture of James Earl Ray. The museum doesn’t mind pointing out that Lincoln only instigated the Emancipation Proclamation as a

The Lorraine Motel--now the National Civil Rights Museum

The Lorraine Motel–now the National Civil Rights Museum

political act to subdue the South rather than to actually free the slaves, and that the wealth of the North was as much based on slavery in the South as the South’s own economy.

I’m not going to get involved in this argument; I’ll leave it there. I did, however, buy a baseball cap—something I never wear—which says, “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History.”

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A TALE OF TWO CULTURES

Stage at The Grand Ol' Opry

Stage at The Grand Ol’ Opry

Today there was a culture clash with a visit to The Grand Ol’ Opry in the morning, followed by the Belle Meade Plantation in the afternoon. Standing in the hallowed halls of country music’s Mecca, one got a momentary glimpse into what it is like to reach the pinnacle of your profession and have your dearest dream come true.

1 of numerous dressing rooms at The Opry

1 of numerous dressing rooms at The Opry

At Belle Meade, where 136 people were enslaved, one also got a glimpse of dreams coming true—the dream of emancipation. Tonight we’re dining in a building that combines ancient with modern, if I can stretch the comparison a bit. Modern cuisine in a building where Andrew Jackson was married, and which also served as a station on the Underground Railway.

Slave Quarters at the plantation

Slave Quarters at the plantation

Belle Meade Plantation

Belle Meade Plantation