The city of Memphis is steeped in history. It might amaze you just how many important moments in American history took place in the city. There are plenty of tours and exhibits available throughout the city, all of which are fantastic to take in. However, the best way to truly dive in and learn about the history of Memphis (and with it, the history of the United States), is to educate yourself ahead of time. This way, you’ll have an understanding and a foundation of knowledge prior to visiting, which will make the tours and displays that much more meaningful. So, before you come, here are a few bits of history you should learn about.
Whenever you visit this area of the country, it is always a good idea to have some understanding of the Civil War. Tennessee did secede from the United States in June 1861. At that time, the city of Memphis became a major defensive position for the Confederate States Army. However, within a year the Union Army took control of the city and held it for the remainder of the war.
Civil Rights Movement
Throughout the 1960s, Memphis became the center of the civil rights movement. Because of a number of segregation practices, the city swelled with a large population of African Americans. Martin Luther King Jr. spent much of his time here and was later assassinated at his hotel in April 1968.
Some of the most renown musicians in American history either grew up and moved out of Memphis or remained and helped to grow the music culture. Some musicians did end up moving north, partly because of the segregation taking place in the city, and they ended up planting roots in other locations such as Chicago, Detroit and New York City. However, Memphis played a strong role in the development of these musicians. Some of the top musicians to come out of the city includes Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. Jones, Muddy Waters, Justin Timberlake, and Three 6 Mafia.
These are just a few of the important dates and events in the history of Memphis you should learn about prior to visiting the city. Now, there’s nothing wrong with reading further and diving into other bits of Memphis history. If there are aspects of history you find more interesting, by all means, read up on them prior to your visit. It will make the time you spend in the city that much more enjoyable. By educating yourself beforehand, you’ll be able to live through many of these important historical events when you arrive.