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Wally on Wheels:  Wabash College Immersion Trip 2017

Indianola, Clarksdale, and Holly Springs, MS

Justin Raters, Luke Rowles, AJ Hamilton, Darrien Dartis

After travelling over 1,300 miles through prominent cities in the South, we found ourselves in Indianola, MS. Although this would be the smallest town we visited, it possesses a rich and important history; it is the hometown of world-renowned Blues legend, BB King. We made our stop so that we could explore the BB King Museum. While there, we viewed a short film that illustrated the impact of the Blues, and music in general, during the Civil Rights Movement. It also highlighted the positive role that BB King played in both music and society. We then explored the museum with its abundance of artifacts and interactive exhibits. After that, we took the short walk around the side of the museum to the gravesite of BB King; a beautiful granite tombstone with his signature and lyrics from “Take It Home” engraved.

Once we took our group photo in front of the famous “Lucille” guitar statue, we made our way down the street a few blocks to BB King’s famous Club Ebony where we were served a classic Southern lunch and listened to a DJ play R&B, Dance, and Blues. After giving a brief history of Club Ebony, the DJ handed over the stage to a local Blues musician. It is safe to say that, after both the BB King Museum and Club Ebony, many of us had a newly found appreciation for the Blues.

With Blues being the focus of the day, we stopped in Clarksdale, MS in order to visit the Devil’s Crossroads, which is where, according to legend, Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in order to have a tuned guitar that would lead him to fame and fortune. After that, we continued to a museum in Holly Springs, MS dedicated to Ida B. Wells, one of the most significant female figures of the Civil Rights Movement. The museum, exhibiting artifacts of her life and work, ironically was originally the home of her master.

BB King grave

This is the burial site of Riley “B.B.” King. It is located near the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, MS, where he was born. He is one of the most famous Blues musicians to ever live, spanning many cultures and generations, influencing musicians even today. King passed away in Las Vegas, NV on May 14, 2015, but was laid to rest in his hometown.

Located in Indianola, MS, Club Ebony was a prestigious African American Nightclub during the rise of the Blues. Many famous acts such as James Brown, Ray Charles, and Ike Turner all performed at this venue. B.B. King eventually bought Club Ebony in an attempt to preserve it as it was in the glory days, awaiting the comeback of Blues.

Devil's Crossroad

This is a sign, a symbol of the blues, known as Devil’s Crossroads. It is located at the intersection of highways 49 and 61 in Clarksdale, MS. According to legend, this is where Robert Johnson, born into a poor family, sold his soul to the devil in order to become a well-known and influential musician.

Ida B. Wells sign

This is a sign from Memphis, TN marking Ida B. Wells’ historical significance. Wells and her family were born into slavery in the South and she eventually became a founder of the NAACP, known for her anti-lynching efforts. The museum in Holly Springs, MS was filled with priceless artifacts, but we were unable to take photographs.

Indianola, Clarksdale, and Holly Springs, MS