Memphis, Tennessee, is known as the home of the blues and the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, but with more than 100 rib joints in which to feast, it might also be called hog heaven.
The travel website Soul of America describes Memphis as a “Black cultural heritage destination par excellence.” The city boasts the Hattieloo Theater, an African-American repertory theater that presents a wide-ranging selection of plays, from “A Raisin in the Sun” to “Macbeth.” There’s also the Bantaba Dance Company, which offers spectacular performances of African dance, drumming, stories and songs for all ages and races.
“Beale Street is the primary entertainment district for live music and clubbing,” said Mimmye Goode, operator of See Memphis. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. The National Civil Rights Museum is here. We’ll take you there. There’s Soulsville, where Stax Records used to be. Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Booker T and the MGs all recorded for that label. That company was completely integrated, top to bottom, during the Civil Rights era. Visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.”
Memphis visitors love soul food and pork barbecue and eat at longtime favorites like Four Way Restaurant, Alcenia’s and Neely’s, the latter owned by Gina and Pat Neely, who have their own show on the Food Network.
Pittsburgh has 200 years of African-American history. It was a “depot” on the Underground Railroad. The Hill District is considered the cultural center of black life.
“There’s a very active African-American community in Pittsburgh,” said Jason Fulvi, executive vice president for Visit Pittsburgh. “Much of it dates to the days of playwright August Wilson. There was a vibrant jazz and blues community here, the genesis for the development of the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture.
“It’s an amazing venue with everything under one roof. You can experience theater, dance, music, history, film, literature, visual arts, interactive education, classes and live performances. There’s a 486-seat theater. It’s a multiuse facility located near the convention center,” said Fulvi.