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Presenter : Ian Wright

Deep South USA

Ian Wright journeys through America’s ‘Bible Belt’ – the Deep South, home to the civil rights movement, the American civil war, and blues, jazz and rock.

image:Ian downs a pint of the black stuffHis trip begins with a trek in the stunning Smoky Mountains on the Tennessee / North Carolina border. It’s the most visited National Park in the country but there’s still incredible remote wilderness and breathtaking vistas all the way to the top of Mount Le Cont.

Driving south, Ian’s first stop in North Carolina is Asheville. The town is best known for its home-grown entertainment and the lively mountain music festival in the summer. Back on the road he learns a little about the Cherokee Indians who lived in this region until the white man arrived, a whole tribe of Cherokees was to walk to Oklahoma.

In Scottsboro, Alabama, Ian pays a visit the baggage reclaim superstore. Ian discovers there’s thriving business to be made out of bargains and bizarre articles which never find their way back to their owners hands at airports all around the world.

In the conservative, fundamentalist southern states of the ‘Bible Belt’ it is thought that the snake is the embodiment of the devil. Ian meets Reverend Carl Porter uses deadly snakes during his sermons, believing that if you can master a snake you can master the power of the devil. Not surprisingly, his five hour services have had a few casualties!

Ian begins his day in Atlanta, gateway to the Deep South, with the ultimate southern breakfast of country fried steak and grits & gravy. Atlanta is the place where the world famous drink Coca-Cola was invented.

The birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr, Atlanta’s most famous son, is situated at the end of ‘Freedom Walk’. The house is now a national monument. When he was shot dead in Memphis in 1968 his body was returned home and every year thousands of pilgrims inspired by dreams of interracial harmony pay their respects.
From Atlanta Ian takes a greyhound bus to Tuskegee, Alabama, for the public reunion of America’s first back fighter pilots, an annual air-show at Moton field. He’s lucky enough to be offered a ride in an early training plane and learns a few tactical (but stomach-churning) manoeuvres.

After heading south to the idyllic Gulf Shores, Ian spends a day witnessing a reconstruction of the last battle of the American Civil war. In 1865 the Confederates of the South finallyimage: In Scottsboro, Alabama, Ian pays a visit the baggage reclaim superstore. Ian discovers there's thriving business to be made out of bargains and bizarre articles which never find their way back to their owners hands at airports all around the world.surrendered to the Unionists of the North in Mobile Bay at Fort Morgan.

That evening he joins the Florabama beach party where he learns the right way to eat crawfish – and the right way to toss mullet in the interstate mullet-toss between Alabama & Florida.

The last leg of Ian’s journey takes him via Vicksburg and the blues town of Clarksdale to Memphis, Tennessee. In Clarksdale he rents a room in the Riverside Hotel, once patronised by the likes of Sam Cook and Muddy Waters, and pays a visit to Wade Walten, the blues-singling barber at the only old style shave joint left in town.

Ian finally arrives at his destination – Memphis, the city which flourished on the cotton trade of the Mississippi Delta. He’s here for just one thing, though – Elvis week, an annual pilgrimage for thousands of fans in the week of the anniversary of the King’s death on August 16th.

On a Cadillac cab to tour he takes in the sights of the town: Elvis’ childhood home, his school and Sun Studios, where Elvis recorded his first ever hit. The highpoint of the week, and the end of Ian’s trip through the extraordinary southern states is a candlelit vigil attended by thousands, lasting throughout the night of August 16th.

Places Mentioned - USA

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