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February is Black History Month, when crowds flock to the National Civil Rights Museum and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. But other lesser-known places are also worth a visit, for those who wish to contemplate the city’s invaluable contributions to politics and culture. Here are five such locations:

mason temple

With nearly 8,000 seats, the Church of God in Christ’s “world headquarters” building opened in 1945 as “the largest gathering place in Memphis as well as the largest church owned and operated by of African Americans in the United States,” according to the Tennessee Encyclopedia.

Named for COGIC’s founding bishop, Charles H. Mason, the brick-and-stone monument to black religious freedom and Pentecostal expression at 930 Mason St. has become an indelible part of one of the most dramatic civil rights stories of the century when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. gave his “I’ve been to the top of the mountain” speech there on April 3, 1968 – the day before he was assassinated on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel .

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Protesters sing Amazing Grace at the Mason Temple in South Memphis

Hundreds of protesters gather to sing Amazing Grace at Mason Temple in South Memphis, the site of MLK’s final speech

Memphis Trade Call

BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN MEMPHIS: Stax Museum seeks to pass on record label’s legacy with Black History Month programming

Ida B. Wells Square

Dedicated amid the pandemic on July 16, 2021, the Ida B. Wells statue was an overdue addition to a Memphis statue landscape that already included WC Handy, EH Crump, Johnny Cash and Elvis (to name a few). to name a few).

Sculpted by Andrea Lugar of Eads, the statue stands on the corner of Beale and Fourth streets near the historic Beale Street Baptist Church, a congregation of freed slaves that housed the office of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, the newspaper who published some of Wells’ crusading anti-lynching investigations, including a famous 1892 op-ed that a white mob used as an excuse to trash the newspaper’s office six days later.

MEMPHIS HISTORY: Ida B. Wells statue unveiled in downtown Memphis

“Some people don’t want our stories, our realities, our perspectives told, heard, or acknowledged,” said Michelle Duster, president of the Ida B. Wells Foundation of Chicago and Wells’ great-granddaughter. “But between all of us present today, in the spirit of Ida B. Wells, we will not be silenced.”

WDIA

Located at 1070 on the AM dial and still a powerful voice in Memphis, WDIA in 1949 became the first radio station in the United States aimed entirely at black audiences.

Employing influential and famous disc jockeys such as BB King, Rufus Thomas, Jean “The Queen” Steinberg and Nat D. Williams over the years, WDIA (now based at a resort in Southeast Memphis and owned by iHeart Media ) originally aired from offices on Union Avenue.

USA CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL IN MEMPHIS: Beale Street Historic District, WDIA radio station building added to US Civil Rights Trail

A historical marker on Union about half a block east of Main Street commemorates the longtime downtown home of the so-called “Goodwill Station”.

Sion Christian Cemetery

Apparently founded in the 1870s by United Sons of Zion, a fraternal or “benevolent” organization, this 15-acre site in the 1400 block of South Parkway East is the oldest cemetery in Memphis dedicated to African Americans in the area. and is said to have contained nearly 30,000 graves, including those of yellow fever victims; important merchants, doctors and politicians; and some of the lynching victims Ida B. Wells spoke about – see #2 above.

Although listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, the cemetery was neglected and overgrown until 2005, when the nonprofit Zion Community Project was established to help restore and to maintain the site.

Statuette of Larry Finch

This life-size bronze tribute to shooting guard-turned-coach Tiger, who remains perhaps the most beloved figure in University of Memphis basketball history, was unveiled just three months after the statue was Ida B. Wells.

Located outside the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center on the school’s South Campus, the statue captures No. 21 in his Memphis Statue University uniform, halfway through, en route to (presumably) two of his 1,869 career points as a Tiger.

BY MARK GIANNOTTO: At Larry Finch Plaza, Memphis basketball’s past glory embraces the potential of the present

The leader of the Tiger team that coach Gene Bartow took to the NCAA championship game against UCLA in 1973, Finch was a proud product of the Orange Mound neighborhood and Melrose High School. He was embraced in his prime by seemingly the entire Memphis community, but that wasn’t enough to protect him during his controversial final years as a coach, which ended in his forced resignation in 1997.

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.