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History students explore birthplace of blues

Blues trip kudo
UNG students participate in the tradition of leaving coins on the grave of Charley Patton, “King of the Delta Blues,” near Indianola, Mississippi.

History students at the University of North Georgia recently took an opportunity to put down the textbooks and step into the subject of their study during a class trip to Mississippi and Tennessee, where they explored sites related to the development of blues music and civil rights movements.

Their history course, "A Multicultural History of Blues and Rock and Roll Music," covers the beginnings of what Dr. Ben Wynne, associate professor of history, calls "the foundation of American music."

"The Mississippi Delta holds a tremendously diverse culture, and to witness this firsthand reinforces the fact that we live in a multicultural society, which we should not take for granted." Wynne said. "This is also the birthplace of a style of music that is very important to American culture, and it's difficult to experience it through a textbook."

Wynne planned the five-day trip to include a variety of stops including the grave of blues guitarist Robert Johnson; Money, Mississippi, where historical and civil rights figure Emmett Till was murdered; the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center; the Delta Blues Museum; the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the site of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley.

The group also visited the grave of Charley Patton, also known as "King of the Delta Blues," who is one of the subjects of focus in Wynne's book, "In Tune."

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