Memphis: Cotton, Culture, Music and Sports

Memphis: Cotton, Culture, Music and Sports

Memphis Tennessee conjures images of jazz, blues and country and western music. But Memphis is more than the sum of its parts; it is a city of strength that has overcome some of the most devastating odds to become a national treasure. Memphis also has a heart in sports, with the college teams at the center. Basketball is one of the most popular sports, and the Memphis Tigers from University of Memphis have an avid following. Memphis supports their teams with excellence in stadium attendance and basketball scoreboards.

Memphis was inhabited by Native American tribes for over ten thousand years. Various European groups found the locale to be a perfect jump point for ocean voyages to transport slaves. Memphis was named after its sister city in Egypt, as it shared the same kind of elevation and location near a major river. Originally home to a booming cotton and lumber trade, the inhabitants and infrastructure grew to accommodate the growth.

In the 1870’s an outbreak of Yellow Fever killed around seventy five percent of the population. This was the most devastating outbreak, creating a situation where almost all of the residents either died or left the area permanently. The city teetered on the brink of collapse for many years. Without business and people, Memphis didn’t seem to stand a chance of survival. The 1950’s brought a resurgence of interest in the area as a new infrastructure was developed to help avoid any future plague. The movement was known as City Beautiful. The intense restrictions of the city political machine may have offered a springboard to improve the city, but it did not attract the businesses and investors that they so desperately sought.

Known as the mid-south, Memphis has been the center of many of the controversies that have followed a lot of the southern states. Discrimination and prejudice kept the more progressive industries from relocating to the area. It became the location of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in the 1960’s and has had to carry that burden of tarnishment.

The contributions of the people of Memphis in the music arena is paramount to well known figures. Blues, Jazz and even Rock and Roll icons have all based their roots in Memphis. There is something about the area that shares a culture rich in music and it can be felt by everyone that visits the area. Museums, art galleries and the arts began to bloom as the nation and the world recognized the contributions of Memphis to our music and artistic cultures.

The people of Memphis are some of the most ardent sports fans. They are loyal to their home college and national sports teams, building stadiums to house some of the best games in the country. While you might look at the basketball scoreboards and the fans and think this is only a city for a single sport, you would be wrong. Memphis is also home to football and wrestling. Memphis has outgrown the prior concept of a small little big town, and has taken its place as one of the largest metropolitan cities of the southern area. There is something about the combination of sports and music that has given the people a sense of pride and dignity. They have overcome odds that would have destroyed other cities and the pain of the experience is expressed in every aspect of their arts. The people of Memphis have built their city on the base of the people that continued a stoic existence.


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