from my bookshelf: beale street dynasty by preston lauterbach


preston lauterbach delves into the rich history of beale street in memphis, tennessee in this non-fiction narrative. lauterbach discusses in detail the lives of notable black historic figures who shaped the history of downtown memphis, and who can unfortunately easily be lost in the tourism-focused beale street that exists today. lauterbach’s book is an excellent reminder of the importance of maintaining a city’s roots as it evolves.


“In a climactic struggle, Beale Street also fueled the powers that would destroy Robert Church’s legacy. But before Church could build a dynasty, he had to make himself.”

“For many former slaves, the riot killed faith in the army, in the Feedmen’s Bureau, and in the federal government. But it also led to a rebirth. Since much of what they had built around Fort Pickering burned, they abandoned it. They circled their wagons, tightening their geography and concentrating their homes and institutions close together. They would build communities around themselves rather than in anyone else’s protection. They would gravitate to their own prominent citizens. They would gravitate to Bob Church.”

“Beale was a street of many layers, and Hadden traversed them as few others could.”

“With Ida B. Wells, Beale Street made its first great contribution to the world, but a chaotic age had reached its end.”

“In 2014 the Memphis mayor expressed his hope that the street could return to its roots, and that black attorneys and dentists would open offices on Beale, even though a Hard Rock Cafe stands over Pee Wee’s old spot, the Monarch has become a police substation, and steel girders support old gutted buildings, leaving an elaborate facade.”