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About Memphis

“If it could happen in Memphis, it could happen anywhere.” –President Barack Obama

Founded in 1819 on the bluff of the Mississippi River, Memphis is the largest city in the state of Tennessee and has a metropolitan population of over one million. Probably best known for its cultural innovations, Memphis is the “Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ’n Roll”. It is also famous for its entrepreneurial thinkers like Robert Church, the nation’s first Black millionaire, Fred Smith, the founder and CEO of Fed Ex, Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inn, and Clarence Saunders, who started the nation’s first supermarket (Piggly Wiggly). Memphis is also the international headquarters for three Fortune 500 companies—Fed Ex, Auto Zone, and International Paper—and the location of one of the nation’s leading cancer research institutions, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Spend enough time in Memphis, and you’ll appreciate that, truly, nothing ever happens, but the impossible always does.” –Robert Gordon, It Came from Memphis, 284

Memphis offers unique attractions for her citizens and visitors to enjoy. The annual Memphis in May festival, which includes the world’s largest pork barbecue contest, is the city’s largest celebration. Other significant attractions include the National Civil Rights Museum, Graceland, Mud Island River Park, and Shelby Farms—one of the nation’s largest urban parks with 4,500 acres of green space. Memphis has a special mix of culture, food, and entertainment. For more ideas of how to enjoy Memphis, visit

Over the years, Memphis has been at the forefront of breakthroughs in music, business, health care, and civil rights. Today, Memphis is poised to continue its tradition of innovation—this time in the realm of urban education reform.

“Memphis always has been a place associated with independently minded thinkers and entrepreneurs.” –Wanda Rushing, The Paradox of Place, vii

Memphis MSA at a Glance

Population: 1,373,850
Median Home Price: $117,665
Cost of Living: 4.8% below national average
Median Household Income: $47,344
Persons below poverty line: 21.7% (Shelby County, 2012)
Largest Universities and Colleges: University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Christian Brothers’ University