Daily Archives: January 11, 2009

Beale Street

A young man walks past on Beale Street.

A young man walks past on Beale Street. (Derek Sijder)


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Welcome to Memphis

We’ve arrived and I am already in love; in love with Beale Street, the happening spot in downtown Memphis. I had a pulled pork barbeque sandwich at B.B. King’s restaurant and listened to some blues and rock n roll last night. We only stayed for about two hours but I already want to marry a move to a beautiful city called Memphis.-Derek Sijder 

Horse drawn carriages are all over downtown Memphis.

Horse drawn carriages are all over downtown Memphis. -Derek Sijder

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Our First Day South

Yesterday we started our adventure traveling the length of the country. Many things happened to set the tone for the trip and also make it more real. Taking off from San Jose airport today almost seemed surreal, I thought, “Are we really doing this?” “Is this really happening?” This trip is going to be a trip of a lifetime and only when we landed in Dallas for our layover the trip snapped into reality for me.

Anyone who still says kindness doesn’t exist should just talk to people. I walked up to a man and started to chat with him. During the conversation, that reached topics from Europe travel to California politics, I thought I will probably never see this man again in my life and yet I will remember this moment. The act of kindness that he put forth to me was a $100 dollar card to the metro in Washington D.C. I had no idea whom this man was in a city I’ve never been to but now I find myself with $100 dollars of his money… That is kindness!

We then got into Memphis Tennessee, almost immediately we found ourselves in our first interview. This was not just an ordinary interview… we were face to face with a man that held Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in his arms as he died. Rev. Billy Kyles still lives in Memphis and described vividly what happened that dreadful day. While he talked it seemed like he brought us up to that balcony with him, the words and descriptions he used hit us in the most profound way. Today we will go to that balcony and feel the emotions; I think that when we get there the story will be so fresh in our minds that we will almost be able to hear the shot. Rev. Kyles left our interview with and round of applause and pictures galore.

The other minor thing I thought of is that we were in Dallas where JFK was shot and then we came to Memphis where Dr. King was shot. It was like a quick reminder of what we need to remember on this trip.

–Justin Allegri

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Day One by Dovedot-Takeoff from SJ to Memphis, Tennessee

Today was the start of our Civil Rights Tour through the South and trip to the Inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama. It started off with a beautiful day and takeoff in San Jose, California at 9:50 a.m., one hour stop, eat, and go at the Dallas/Fortworth airport, and patchy but still easy-going landing at the start of our driving tour, Memphis, Tennessee.

Once we arrived, we drove straight to our hotel and within twenty minutes of arrival we were starting our first interview of the trip: Reverend Samuel Kyles.

When I first shook his hand, I could sense all that he had been through, all that he had done, and all that he had seen over the years. Then I heard him talk and I felt the emotion of his time on this earth.

During the interview, he spoke so eloquently and with such poise that I felt an even greater respect than before,  for a man who fought for his right to be respected and worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and was there when the horrible shot rang through and took Dr. King’s life.

Rev. Kyles’ words caused my eyes and everyone elses’ in the room to burn and tear up. It was almost as if a wave of emotion came from him and took us over. It was wonderful and awe-inspiring.

After about forty minutes into the interview, and after he finished what he was talking about, I had to ask him a question that has been burning in my brain for years: “If Dr. King were present right now, what would you say to and/or do with him? The very first thing and then after?”

Rev. Kyles surprised me with the smile that was beaming on his face. He said that the first thing he would do would be to high five Dr. King, and then rejoice and celebrate. He added that they would also discuss that we have made grounds on achieving the dream but that at the least, a few things still need to happen to fully achieve the dream (he hinted quite a bit more than a few). 

After the interview we set out for the streets of Memphis to fill our stomachs. We found our calling…B.B. King’s. The place was amazing and a blast, with great food. The best song of the night (live performance), was Billie Jean. All of us filled with excitement and joy for this journey through our nation’s history seemed to seep out from each when this song came on. Everyone let loose through dancing and laughing in their chairs, including myself.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this trip, learning about every thing (small and big) through our van tour, spending time with everyone, and President-Elect Obama’s Inauguration.

Great first day and night and one of many.


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