Friday, January 1, 2016

Memphis Day 2

What a great day of learning.  Started the day at the Stax Records museum, which made a great segue to the Civil Rights museum as we learned how the music made at Stax was connected to the Memphis scene and the civil rights movement.  

Everyone had a good breakfast, and once again we heard from an employee about how great the kids are.  Best he's seen in the eight years he's worked at this hotel, and lots of student groups stay here.  So rest assured that the upbringing at home and the threats at school have paid off!  I can also report that they are punctual and in the right places at the right times.  Very cool.

We started the day at the Stax Museum.  SO MANY things to see that shaped the sound of rock and roll music (and plenty of ideas for a 2016 halftime show, just sayin'...).  
Known as a "Motown of the South," the Memphis sound had a little more edge than Motown.  Stax artists included Booker T. and the MGs (Green Onions), Sam & Dave (Hold On, I'm Comin'; Soul Man), Otis Redding (Try a Little Tenderness; Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay), and Isaac Hayes (Theme from "Shaft") and many others.  My oldest sister and brother were big Motown and Soul fans and had many 45's from the Stax, Motown, and Atlantic labels, which made their way to my playlist when I was pretty young.  I even bought a Stax/Atco retrospective CD to relive those days, since I no longer have any 45's...

Lunch happened at the Hard Rock Cafe' after the students had some time to wander Beale Street and see some sights of downtown Memphis.  Mr. VanKampen and I popped into a local eatery because he was SO excited to see the sign in the window advertising oysters on the half-shell.  
Let's just say I haven't developed the appreciation for this delicacy that he has...  For future reference, if you can get past the texture, you can seriously taste the ocean.  It was a quick trip (oysters slide down pretty fast, after all), and we caught up to the gang in time for more land-based fare at Hard Rock.

In my not-so-humble teacher's opinion, the highlight of the day was the National Civil Rights Museum.  Set in the actual Lorraine Motel, visitors proceed on a self-guided tour that includes exhibits beginning with the slave trade through Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination.  
Video highlights supplement standing exhibits where students can experience the lunch counter at Woolworth's where non-violent protesters demonstrated.  A replica of the bus where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.  Many exhibits are featured along a path that rises almost imperceptibly to the third floor of the hotel and culminates at room 306, where Dr. King was murdered.

The best part of this is the idea that it's not a replica or something moved from one place to another.  Visitors are standing in the very room where Dr. King stayed, and are able to view the window across the street from which James Earl Ray fired his deadly shot (and even visit that room itself).  I am hoping that the things they saw give them all lots of things to think about!

Alas, bus trouble found us again, and we boarded three out of four buses for the trip to America's Incredible Pizza Co., where the kids had dinner, played tons of games, road go-carts, and watched MSU get humiliated...  We rang in the new year back at the hotel so that the bus drivers could get their required time off between trips, and then it was off to bed.  A very early morning awaited us...

*Same disclaimer as yesterday - no proofreading.  I am hitting the "publish" button right after this sentence.