Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 6: Indianola, MS - Jackson, MS

Miles today: 200
Total: 1500

On Saturday, we visited the new B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, MS. This museum is new, and we had been anticipating its opening since our first trip in 2007. It has a number of interactive features, and visitors could get lost in all of the interactive music features scattered throughout the museum. It's a fantastic place not only to learn about B.B. King but also to learn more about the Delta in general and what role music played in the Civil Rights movement. B.B.'s career shows the segregration and discrimination he faced when touring in the 1940s and 50s, and the changes that integration brought in the late 1960s and 1970s, as he hit his status as a worldwide icon with integrated audiences.

We met local legend Mary Shepard (who we again met by chance, as we did on our first trip), who owned Club Ebony, where B.B. got his start, for several decades. We then headed over to Money, MS to see the grave (one of three possible sites, I should say) of blues legend Robert Johnson and the dilapidated store front where Emmett Till said something to a white woman and wound up mutilated, died, and tied to a cotton gin fan in the Tallahatchie River a few days later. Finally, we stopped by Greenwood, where Stokely Carmichael called for "black power" in the mid-1960s in response to the nearly ceaseless violence and death that Civil Rights workers faced in Mississippi and across the South.

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