Blair T. Hunt (1888-1978) is a name every Memphian should know. Many may remember Hunt as the principal of Booker T. Washington High School, a job he held for 24 years, or, as the pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, a position he maintained from 1921-1973, but what many people do not know about are his efforts behind the scenes in search of equality in Memphis.
For the early twentieth century, Hunt was an anomaly: he had a college education. He spent time at LeMoyne-Owen Institute, Morehouse College, Tennessee State, and Harvard.
Reverend C. L. Franklin was no stranger to the recording business. In fact, he was a pioneer in using broadcast and recorded media to expand the reach of his pulpit out into the world. His daughter, Aretha, was also no stranger to the business of recording as she grew up. Born in Memphis, she followed as her father’s gifts and calling moved the family from New Salem Baptist Church, first to Friendship Baptist in Buffalo, New York, then to New Bethel Baptist in Detroit.
Kenneth Lawrence Beaudoin (1913-1995) was dubbed the Poet Laureate of the River at the 1976 Mid-South Festival. This was a fitting title for a man who not only produced a large quantity of poetry, but who also invented a new style of verse. Beaudoin's creations, called Eye-Poems, were a combination of words and pictures and represented a whole new style of poetic verse with imagery.
Part crooner, part blues howler, the great Bobby “Blue” Bland had a voice that influenced the entire genre of soul music. “The Lion of the Blues” died at his home in Germantown on June 23, 2013. He was 83.
His memorial service was held at First Baptist Church – Broad on Thursday, June 27. The funeral procession, en route to Memorial Park Cemetery, made a detour down Beale Street, where Bland’s storied career began.
Blanche Hamilton Karsch was grocery shopping in Memphis when she learned that she had received a 3.5 million dollar inheritance. Mrs. Karsch responded with “Really. That’s nice,” before selecting a 5¢ head of lettuce.
But things weren’t that easy. Blanche had been adopted from a New York orphanage by Hugh and Kate Magevney Hamilton, a prominent Memphis couple. When Mrs. Hamilton died, many Magevney relatives challenged the distribution of the inheritance to Karsch.