And WC Handy will still look down on him… Rainy Days and Songdays celebrates Tyson Fury as he goes Walking in Vegas and Memphis.
The Gypsy King has become as big a headliner in Vegas as Celine Dion, Elton John and The Osmonds (yes, really).
The World Heavyweight champion brought the house down when he adapted another American classic in the ring after defeating Deontay Wilder, who really ought to have had the home fans in the palm of his destructive hands.
Now we’ll forgive Tyson for being disorientated.
And not quite knowing his surroundings after Wilder put him on the seat of his pants during the fight.
Because WC Handy was an Alabaman, who made his name in Memphis, Tennessee, as the Father of the Blues.
Tyson would be a thousand miles away though if he had touched down in the land of the Delta Blues.
‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy… that’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ And doesn’t Harper Lee’s state Alabama and the Deep South have a lot to sing and write about.
That great novel, To Kill A Mockingbird was 60 years old last year.
And it is regularly listed as one of the public’s favourite books and Harper Lee is rightly celebrated in the Deep South state.
So much so that the good residents of her own Monroeville homestead live the story every year.
With the locals actually becoming part of the cast alongside Jem, Scout, Boo Ridley, Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson.
Part of the cast
Every April and May, a version of Mockingbird is put on by people from the community.
And you’ll see the jury preside over Tom Robinson’s trial is selected from the audience before each performance.
While just a short drive away lies Montgomery where Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived from 1931-32 and where Scott worked on Tender is the Night.
Civil Rights, is of course, a journey which still alas is anywhere near completion.
As Dr King himself, and his followers predicted.
And which is evidenced in the unfinished statue to the Father of the Movement in DC.
We can though track the history of the Civil Rights Movement throughout the South by visiting 120 landmarks across 14 states.
Not that you have to worry about working any of it out for yourself as our friends from Alabama have only pointed us.
In the direction of an invaluable companion book.
And when we say our friends we only mean Dr Bernice King, Dr King’s youngest.
Stuff of history
More on the book:
The 128-page hardcover book showcases former Southern Living photographer Art Meripol’s pictures.
The historic photos, paired with more than 200 images of the landmarks today, underscore the transformative experience of the trail and its endured relevance.
‘The Civil Rights Trail is a one-of-a-kind cultural travel experience that everyone should visit.
‘To renew their perspective and gain a deeper appreciation for those who fought before us,” said Dr. Bernice King.
‘Each landmark across the trail serves as a reminder.
‘Of where my father and many other brave activists fought tirelessly for our fundamental freedoms so that future generations of Black Americans could enjoy a better life.’
The heroes and heroines
Travellers can draw inspiration from the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
And follow the harrowing stories of 14-year-old Emmett Till.
And Mississippi leader Medgar Evers, whose indomitable widow Myrlie I met in Jackson at the opening of the Mississippi museums.
Also take in the story of the Birmingham Sunday School attendees.
And the Selma voting-rights marchers and Nashville Freedom Riders.
While reading their stories and retracing their footsteps at sites along the trail.
The magic bus
The Greyhound is of course a misnomer as your journey goes at snail’s pace.
But ever since I took my first one from New York to Boston with my fellow pale-faced Scots.
And mingled with Native Americans, blacks and a melting pot of nationalities.
I have sought out the bus as my preferred mode of transport in the US.
And enjoy the bus the way it should.
And consider too its place in American culture with the Freedom Ride through Civil Rights history.
The book also underscores the movement’s present-day relevance by featuring historic destinations such as the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, D.C., alongside new memorial sites including the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
How to stay informed
For more information about the book or to plan your journey on the trail, visit civilrightstrail.com.