Tennessee Historical Commission
This Tennessee Historical Commission marker is located in the 300 block of Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. It stands outside the former site of the Palace Theater, where Nat D. Williams often appeared as host and Master of Ceremonies.
This Tennessee Historical Commission marker reads:
“NAT D. WILLIAMS – In 1949 Nat D. Williams became the first black radio announcer in Memphis when he began broadcasting for WDIA. He was a co-founder of the Cotton Makers Jubilee and is credited with giving the celebration its name. A history teacher in the Memphis City schools, Williams was best known for Amateur Night on Beale Street, which he began in 1935 at the Palace Theater. Williams was also a columnist for the Memphis World.”
There is also a Tennessee Historical Commission marker for Rufus Thomas Jr. at this site.
Here are some links to more information on Nat D. Williams:
The Nat D. Williams marker stands beside a vacant lot in the 300 block of Beale Street, which is the former site of the Palace Theater.
Another Tennessee Historical Commission marker for Rufus Thomas Jr. also stands at this site.
Like Nat D. Williams, Rufus Thomas Jr. also appeared as a host and Master of Ceremonies at the Palace Theater and later became a radio announcer on WDIA.
The Palace Theater was a major venue on Beale Street during the first half of the 20th century. As Beale Street declined economically in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Palace Theater was demolished in 1972 during an urban renewal project.
Here is how the Palace Theatre site appears now.
There are several other Tennessee Historical Commission markers on Beale Street including:
- Rufus Thomas Jr.
- Pee Wee Saloon ;
- Ida B. Wells ;
- Hooks Brothers Photography Studio. – where the only known studio portrait of Robert Johnson was taken.
Other Tennessee Historical Commission markers within walking distance include: WDIA ;
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