Memphis is about to reach a historic birthday. 2019 marks the Memphis Bicentennial celebration, an opportunity to bridge the past with the future and a new century of soul. The celebration is here, and the city is braced to usher in a celebration to end all celebrations. The Memphis Bicentennial celebration scheduled for this year is not just a local one but a global invitation for people to come and see what had made Memphis special and a chance to put an imprint on its future and the next century.

A new century of soul is not just a slogan; it is a call to all who live, love, and enjoy Memphis to play a part in shaping the next 100 years to come. The Memphis Bicentennial celebration is a chance for the city to show off its various development projects (e.g., Crosstown, One Beale, Central Station, Medical District, Methodist University Hospital, and St. Jude/The Pinch District). It brings together the business, arts, culinary, and scientific/research communities to celebrate everything uniquely Memphis and build on its progress toward bridging communities and working to create a unified Memphis.

200 years in the making

Founded on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River (hence its nickname the “Bluff City”), Memphis is the overlook into southwestern Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and the northern part of Mississippi. It was founded on May 22, 1819, by, among its founders, General Andrew Jackson, who would go on ten years later and serve as the seventh President of the United States. The city has grown from an important center of trade for cotton, through immigration and post-war migration of free African-Americans, from around 40,000 residents in the 1860s to more than 1.3 million in 2017 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This makes Memphis the 42nd largest city in the U.S. by population and an important center in the Mid-South region.

Two hundred years has transformed Memphis into a metropolitan area that hosts major colleges and universities, a professional basketball team, a minor-league baseball affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, and major corporations and research facilities such as FedEx and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Two hundred years has helped bring together different population groups and together they have formed a new century of soul for this growing metropolis.

Celebrating the Memphis Bicentennial

There are many events and activities planned around the Memphis Bicentennial Celebration. Each one is designed to pay tribute to the city’s past (all parts of it) and the important role Memphis has played in forming a nation. A look will be taken at the leaders in politics and civics, sports, entertainment and music, and the change-makers that are at the forefront of ushering in a new Memphis.

Thirty-eight distinct cultures make up Memphis. The Memphis in May International Festival looks to honor these cultures and their contribution to the city. Memphis Fashion Week in April will provide a platform for artists, models, designers, and stylists to show their work that is uniquely Memphis. The art of George Hunt and his commissioned work will be on display during the Art of Beale Street Music Festival, also in April. The music of Beale Street will also be played during the Beale Street Festival in May. Other events planned feature walking tours, a BBQ championship, concerts, and neighborhood-based activities. Plan to visit Memphis sometime in 2019 for its Bicentennial celebration and experience its true soul!

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