Freedom on the River | Service and Soul on the River
Students started Tuesday, March 12, volunteering their time for Shelby Farms Park. They worked hard, picking up trash around the area and clearing out the invasive species, kudzu. Students received thanks from the volunteer organization as well as many people using the park. This sparked a discussion on how a service project relates to the theme of “Freedom on the River.” Students made observations about how donating our time helped many of those who use the park every day. In addition, it connected students somewhat to a community that was not their own. The final observation made was that being as fortunate as we are, we have a freedom to donate and volunteer our time. Many people do not have this freedom. This opportunity led students to think about their own good fortune, how to give back to the community as well as think about freedom from a different angle.
Later, students visited the Rock and Soul Museum on Beale Street. They were able to explore Beale Street before finishing the day with dinner and live music at B.B. King’s Blues Club. During this time they learned about the importance of music to our theme. Rock and the Blues was started along the river by poor farming and working families, both black and white. It united the two races at a time when division was prevalent. The music that further developed from Rock and the Blues, such as Soul, allowed African American culture to surge. Music was a place where barriers were lowered because of the equal opportunities given to both black and white people. After seeing the Civil Rights Museum the day before and digesting its heavy and sobering information, it was nice to end this day with a feeling of unity and optimism. The street displayed the thriving musical and historical culture as well as the impact music left on Beale Street even in more trying times. This dinner also allowed us to see how alive, active, and full of culture Memphis is even today.