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There’s a street in Montgomery that locals say is one of the most historic in America. A large fountain sits at the western end, the site of the city’s once-booming slave market. At the eastern end is the Alabama State Capitol, where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy. In between is Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor in the late 1950s.
It may seem odd to call a town of 23,000 a cultural destination. But Oxford, Mississippi, is indeed a place of deep and enduring culture. Square Books, which opened on the historic courthouse square in 1979, is one of the nation’s top booksellers. Vishwesh Bhatt, an Indian immigrant at the helm of Oxford’s Snackbar, was a 2018 James Beard finalist for Best Chef in the South.
When people speak of Jackson, Mississippi, the conversation often turns to the past—the complicated civil rights history that has both shamed and shaped the city. But increasingly, they also talk about momentum.
Knoxville’s population—approximately 185,000—is about one-third that of Memphis and Nashville. And while Memphis claims Elvis and Nashville the Grand Ole Opry, Knoxville boasts an unlikely pair of native sons: country singer Kenny Chesney and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino.