“Something is Happening in Memphis”: Black Spirituality and Culture of Resilience in Memphis, Tennessee
Smith, Kayla J.
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CitationSmith, Kayla J. 2021. “'Something is Happening in Memphis': Black Spirituality and Culture of Resilience in Memphis, Tennessee." Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractMemphis, Tennessee is a majority Black city located at the southwestern corner of Tennessee bordering Mississippi and Arkansas. The unique geographic location has created a beautifully urban-country energy that gives Memphis its edginess. There is a spiritual and relational component to the bold lives and culture people in Memphis create. During his last sermon on April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Mason Temple in Memphis. He said, “Something is happening in Memphis. Something is happening in our world”. There has always been something happening in Memphis, and there exists a profound and distinct culture of resilience that deserves to be acknowledged and complexified. In this study, I will honor that brilliance and explore how a culture of resilience has been the site of innovation in Memphis. Some of Black Memphian life represents Black spirituality. Black spirituality invokes freedom of mind, body, and soul for Black people. Through a womanist lens, I will engage with Memphis’s Black history and culture to highlight its depiction of Black spirituality and deliberate, imaginative resilience for Black survival. I will do this through sections on the genesis of Memphis, creativity, defiance and activism, community and fellowship, and lastly, music, dance, and soul. I understand this city as a predominantly Black city. There is no Memphis without its undeniable influence from Black traditions, language, food, style, and residents. I will use “Memphis” and “Black Memphis” interchangeably through my perspective that Memphis is Black. This thesis is my way of expressing my love for the 901 and articulating its authentic beauty and societal contributions.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368083
- HDS Student Papers