“Call me Rat,” Frank Ratcliff says when he meets us at the door of The Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The twinkle in his eye suggests that we were going to learn about more than a blues landmark. We are going to learn a bit about him.
“Now it’s early in the morning It’s early in the morning It’s early in the morning And I ain’t got nothin’ but the blues.” (BB King)
B.B. King wrote this about losing a lover. Our blues come from having to get up at 5:30 in the morning to be able to check out of the dorm by 6:30. Breakfast will be on the road today – purchased on the run at McDonalds. We’ve had some long days, now, but today starts the earliest. Professor McCord is willing to add to the schedule if an opportunity presents itself, and it did. Another group we met swore the B.B. King Museum was the best, so she called to see if they would open an hour early for us. The answer: yes, so we have to be in the heart of the Mississippi Delta by 9:00 AM. Today’s tour will be rough and emotional, punctuated by cool and smooth. Fortunately, BB began this tour day with a brillant burst of musical wonder both invigorating and inspiring.
Frankeye Adams-Johnson says that she was a foot soldier, one of the thousands of marching young people in the 60s. She suggests that we need to inspire young people today […]
An entire day in one spot! We don’t have to pack or unpack, but that doesn’t mean we get to sleep in. Although we have an opportunity for a walking/driving tour of Jackson, I’m beat by this afternoon and I choose to take a nap rather than getting on the bus again. The most important place the others visited was Medgar Evers’ home. I’m afraid my mind was saturated before I got to today’s speakers. I need some time to process all that we have learned.
Finding a title for this section is difficult. I was looking something catchy like “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” But at the end of the trip, I realize that this bus is exactly what I prayed for in 1965 – a psalm to diversity. We are black, white, Chinese, married, and single.
I just finished an interview with Jessica Bays. She is a reporter for the “Clarksdale Press Reporter” in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Clarksdale is the Birthplace and World Capital of the Blues in the Mississippi Delta. Lots of Blues musicians have called it home including Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner and Muddy Waters.
So why is this interview important? In 1965 the Mississippi Delta was a hell for civil rights workers and the local people who worked with them.