First of all, let me start by saying “Memphis and the Paradox of Place” was a great read! The author, Wanda Rushing, really put a lot of things in perspective for me. After reading this book, as well as discussing it in class, I’ve realized that I do not give Memphis enough credit. Don’t get me wrong, I love my city and where I come from, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I have so many things to be proud of when it comes to Memphis. Let’s be clear, the city of Memphis is tough. Having gone through so many trials and tribulations, setback after setback, and we’re still here. Memphis should definitely be commended.
True enough, it’s safe to say that I haven’t done a lot of research on Memphis. I guess I feel like since I’m from here, I know just about everything that has to do with Memphis, but I was completely wrong. Rushing says in her book that Memphis is underestimated by its own residents, and I couldn’t agree more. People from Memphis, including myself, are ALWAYS complaining about how there’s nothing to do here and how there are more opportunities in other cities. Now, this I agree with also, but it wasn’t until after I read “Memphis and the Paradox of Place” that I realized Memphis has so much valuable history. There is a history of people who made opportunities for themselves, regardless of the critics who say that Memphis is slow-moving and uneducated.
Rushing calls these people that I speak of as “independently minded thinkers”. To me, she’s saying these are the people who made a way for themselves without letting anyone or anything hold them back from doing what they wanted to do. There are so many individuals out there who love to throw salt on other people’s dreams, but people like Robert Church wasn’t having that. He was the nation’s first black millionaire, and guess where he was born? MEMPHIS! How freakin’ awesome is that? Then, there are people like Kemmons Wilson who started the Holiday Inn, which is still very successful today. Let’s not forget Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx. All of these people came from right here in Memphis, TN. They all made opportunities for themselves, and it’s a lesson for me because I realize now that I too can do the same.
The city of Memphis has been dragged through the mud and dirt, but we continue to stand tall. Wanda Rushing mentions, “Who would have imagined that the city once identified as a yellow fever “pestilential mudhole” and designated the unhealthiest city in the United States would become the home of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?” We all know the wonderful work they do at St. Jude and it’s an honor to be associated with them. Memphis is also home to the Civil Rights Museum, Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Stax Museum, Peabody Hotel, and Beale Street, where many musicians got their start. In the words of Jerry Lee Lewis, “I’m going to Memphis where the beat is tough, Memphis, I can’t get enough, It makes you tremble and it makes you weak, It’s in your blood, that Memphis Beat.”