MEMPHIS CON BRIO
Business Traveler|December 2020/January 2021
Music and history flood through the heart and soul of this quintessential American river town
MICHAEL ALPINER

The Reverend Shawn Amos, who is best known as a musician and songwriter, stated, “Memphis is the place where rock was born and Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. It's full of contradictions, abject poverty and riches that only music can provide.” The name Memphis appears in more than 400 songs according to Billboard Magazine more than any other city. Memphis is also the home of FedEx, Graceland and St. Jude’s Hospital.

Memphis is a city with memory and history, as well as a modern flair and vision to the future. The gleaming 321foot Pyramid standing on the south bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River is a nod to the city’s ancient namesake in Egypt. Two-thirds the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza, this glass-and-steel edifice has become a landmark of America’s Memphis and an attraction in its own right, in its current incarnation as a gigantic Bass Pro Shops superstore.

The Renasant Convention Center is a 300-thousand-square-foot facility which boasts column-free ballroom space, exhibition areas that can subdivide into multiple event spaces perfect for meetings and breakout groups, floor-to-ceiling windows to allow for natural light, and easy access to the 600-room (with 300 more rooms planned) Sheridan Memphis Downtown. The convention center is also in proximity to The Guesthouse at Graceland, The Peabody Memphis, River Inn of Harbor Town, and Big Cypress Lodge, all of which feature comfortable accommodations and meeting spaces.

Though a grand tourist draw, Memphis takes its COVID-19 response quite seriously. Mayor Jim Strickland has led a campaign with the Shelby County Health Department to curb the spread of the virus through enforcement of standard best practices concerning mask wearing, social distance, testing and sanitation. The city is currently in Phase 2 of reopening, but the statistics are encouraging.

LEARNING FROM HISTORY

For those who enjoy walking in the footsteps of history, Memphis is a living museum. In 1968 the Civil Rights movement was in high swing. Then on April 4, under an overcast Memphis sky, a single bullet shattered the dream. Though a nation mourned, resilience enabled a people to fit the pieces together again and continue the march toward equality.

One essential element of any rights movement is the thoughtful protection of history and memory. The National Civil Rights Museum, established in 1991, is located at the former Lorraine Hotel, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The museum offers a history lesson about racism in America as well as a memorial to the men, women, and children who suffered and often lost their lives during a civil and moral struggle for equality and justice that continues today.

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