Lauren Kethan, Day 1: Spring JF Trip

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We got an early start this morning. By early I mean the 2:00 am kind of early. Most of us fell asleep instantly, but it took some a while to find the best way to sleep comfortably. When I awoke, we were almost in Arkansas!  Lucky for me, I awoke in time to take a picture by the Arkansas state line.

Ryan, Lauren, and Santiago at the Arkansas State Line

We visited President Bill Clinton’s grandparents’ home, which is where he was brought home from the hospital in Hope, Arkansas. Next stop, Memphis!

Our first stop to make in Memphis was to eat some good ole’ country fried chicken at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken! There was a wait to be seated, so we roamed about a bit and looked over the surrounding area.  Memphis is clearly struggling economically.  There’s a lot of standing water, trash, and vacant buildings there.  Next door to our restaurant was an empty lot with trash in it.  The fence separating the two property lines had razor wire along the top although, curiously, the gate was left wide open.

Junior Fellows In An Abandoned Warehouse Near Gus's

Who would have thought such an amazing restaurant would be located in this area? The food was superb and their sweet tea was the best I have ever had!

After lunch we headed to the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum brought to life a lot of the historical facts I have learned in school about the struggle African Americans face. The one event that hit home with me that was featured at the museum was the murder of Emmett Till.

Till was supposedly flirting with the wife of the owner of a grocery store in Mississippi, so the husband and his half brother went to Emmett’s uncle’s house and began to torture him. Emmett’s body was found three days later in the Tallahatchie River. The store owner and his brother were tried and ultimately found NOT guilty. This event was a milestone in the Civil Rights Movement, spurring many Americans to action.

While at the National Civil Rights Museum we also were able to view the exact spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot outside his room on the balcony at the Lorraine Motel. The Museum incorporated the two rooms he had rented. Next door to the Lorraine, you could see the vantage point the shooter had when he murdered Dr. King.

Our next stop was to Sun Studio, the birth place of Rock-n-Roll. There we learned how and why the rock-n-roll genre was created. We were also able to see the recording studio where stars like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash got their start.

Lauren at the Drums, Sun Studio

The most amusing part of the tour at Sun Studio was being able to stand in the exact spot that Elvis Presley stood and even take a picture with a microphone he once used. Following the recording studio we had the privilege of driving by Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. We stopped by a famous stone wall where Elvis fans display their love for the rock-n-roll King; I added my sentiments with a black Sharpie.

Lauren Defacing Graceland's Wall

For dinner, we went to Beale Street. It was amazing–so many lights and loud music! King’s Palace was our restaurant choice, and after eating Gumbo and Gator Chips I didn’t regret the decision to eat there.

Leaving Beale Street was a perfect ending to an incredibly exciting day! I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store!

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