Standing in front of the impressive, 42,000 sq. ft. “MLK Mural: We Will Not Be Satisfied Until” is powerful. Created in 2016 by world-renowned artist Meg Saligman, the mural is the largest in the Southeast, one of the five largest in the nation, and the first to wrap an entire city block. It is quite a sight and preserves our cultural heritage with lush colors and locally-sourced imagery of Chattanooga’s past, present, and future. It’s quite a site to see and can be viewed from anywhere in the MLK neighborhood.
Bordering the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, the Martin Luther King/Big 9 neighborhood provides an active space for college students, families and really anyone who enjoys food, fun and maybe a beverage!
It’s the birthplace of noted jazz figures Bessie Smith, Yusef Lateef and Lovie Austin, and has been an area of African American history and commerce for more than 100 years. You have to stop in the Bessie Smith Cultural Center which celebrates the African Diaspora and pays tribute to our African American culture with an emphasis on Bessie Smith, “The Empress of the Blues.” You can catch a live show at the famous JJ’s Bohemia that offers a small and intimate experience (true hole in the wall!) or on the lawn at The Bessie. Tip: If you follow MLK all the way to the Tennessee River (you may need to drive or bike for this one), you will get to see Blue Goose Hollow where Bessie Smith played for coins as a child!
Walking (or bike share) along MLK Blvd. will have you viewing beautiful public art, a Tennessee Music Pathways marker, and popping in and out of restaurants and breweries. And you must try all of these (yes, alllll of it but you can space it out!) – freshly fried chicken (forty’s & fowl!) from Champy’s, piping hot fish from Uncle Larry’s, Spicy Mami from Lil Mama’s Chicago Style Hoagy or some incredible choices from PROOF Bar + Incubator’s restaurants Neutral Ground, Poppytons Patisserie, Adey Ethiopian Eatery or Vinny’s Prince of Pizza.
You can round out the day with some local brews including the Chocolate French Toast or Pastry Stout Monkey's Heart IPA from ODDStory Brewing Company and the Tremont Tectonic Session IPA from Hutton & Smith Brewing Company. Or you can find plenty of your favorite options at Barley Chattanooga which features more than 60 different beers on tap!