Video: Historic Tupelo Neighborhood Gets Special Exhibit at CVB

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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI)  -A Tupelo neighborhood that is now only a memory is being featured through the summer as part of a display at the Convention and Visitors Bureau. As WCBI’s Allie Martin reports, the exhibit highlights the “Shake Rag” community and the musical legacy it helped create.

Now, it’s one of the busiest commercial districts in Tupelo, but in the early 20th century, this section of Main Street was home to an impoverished neighborhood known as Shake Rag.

“As a kid growing up I really enjoyed it because I was always into something, always going somewhere in Shake Rag.”

Along with its modest homes, Shake Rag became known for its music.

Whether it was blues or sanctified gospel, music was a cornerstone of the community.

That’s why an exhibit featuring “Shake Rag” is on display at the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Reverend Robert Jamison was a resident of Shake Rag and says it was a special place.

“If anybody knew about the history of Shake Rag, Shake Rag wasn’t the most beautiful place, but it was probably one of the most loving places in Tupelo..”

The display features photos and items from the era, such as a guitar, and tambourine. In the audience for this ceremony, a tour group from the United Kingdom who know the important role Shake Rag played in the music of Elvis Presley.

“I think he must have been the first person who actually put Gospel into the white man’s music , mixed gospel, ballads, rock and roll, the whole lot. It’s been absolutely wonderful.”

The rich musical history , coupled with the close knit community are two reasons Rev. Jamison still speaks proudly of Shake Rag.

“There are people right now ashamed to tell that they were born or reared in Shake Rag, don’t be ashamed because that tells you God has worked some miracles, when you look at this, you know God has been good to us.”
Shake Rag became a memory when residents were relocated to make way for urban renewal in the late 1960s, but the memory of the vibrant community lives on. In tupelo I’m Allie Martin WCBI News.
The exhibit at the CVB will be up through August.

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