This city where I live, work, and create gets a bad rap a lot. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to get on the pity wagon and mope about what all makes Memphis a hard place to live sometimes. But the more I work in purpose, the more I realize that I’m personally responsible for doing my part to enhance this spot’s quality of living. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always believed that Memphis has a lot going for it – the problem is that it doesn’t seem to recognize or embrace its unique appeal, instead it seems to stand still in a stubborn stance of refusing to change. Besides the Lorraine Motel, BBQ, and Blues music, one of the things that makes Memphis so interesting is its engaging museum system. Personally, I think the museums are one of the city’s best kept secrets. Between the national attention from the school consolidation controversy to the exposure of the criminal element through The First 48, the city longs for a public image makeover. Perhaps the museums can provide some assistance with that.
You see, not only does Memphis have one, but three museums dedicated to music. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is the former location of the infamous Stax Records, which spawned the soul legends Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, and Isaac Hayes, just to name a few. Then, there’s the Smithsonian-backed Memphis Rock N Soul Museum and Sun Studios where the hip-swiveling Elvis recorded.
But one gem of the city is the Center for Southern Folklore, a museum that is dedicated to preserving the vibrant, compelling, and awe-inspiring history of the Southern United States, with an emphasis on the Delta region. I’m always looking for historical pieces on the Black community in the city for the sake of analyzing certain issues that continue to plague it. More things are starting to surface with each passing year. The Center of Southern Folklore assumed the task of acquiring and managing a massive collection of photos, films and audio recordings of Rev. L.O. Taylor. Rev. Taylor was a pastor turned folk historian who went about the community of Memphis documenting Black life for over four decades, between the mid 1920s to the early 1960s.
Rather than rehashing everything about this little known and remarkable man, I suggest that you visit the site and spend some time checking out all of that historical footage. Meet you there!