Written & photographed by Jon M. Dailey, III
The number 38126 is an area code in the southern area of a culturally diverse city called Memphis,TN also known as Soulsville, U.S.A.
In a world with ever changing creativity, chaos, and culture we sometimes forget the places around us that used to seem so familiar. The number 38126 is an area code in the southern area of a culturally diverse city called Memphis,TN also known as Soulsville, U.S.A. Soulsville played a pivotal role in history with trailblazers such as Ida B. Wells, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jessie Jackson, and Rev. Al Sharpton just to name a few. At the same time the 38126 is also labeled the poorest zip code in Tennessee with so much of its history etched into society that many forget about til this day. Historic markers like LeMoyne-Owen College, the one and only private Historically Black College and University (HBCU); STAX Records building that now houses the STAX Museum; People’s Grocery store, being the only black owned grocery store in the Soulsville area that was raided and burned during the civil rights movement; and The Four Way Soul Food Restaurant, was the first soul food restaurant and longest standing restaurant in Memphis and served as a gathering place for those civil rights trailblazers, that make up the majority of 38126.
Project 38126 was geared to show the art and beauty that still thrives within those historic streets. Growing up in South Memphis during my teenage years had a tremendous impact on my life, growth and creativity. When I envisioned capturing the art of the zip I thought about textures, color, and the touch of nostalgia. Using high waisted leather pants, muscle shirts, platform shoes, and splotched pants that were created by the designer and model Devin Matthews helped to achieve just that. Devin, being another Memphis native and creative, understood the history that needed to be captured that has been forgotten by the majority of the city. The innate natural beauty of Memphis comes from the culture, music, and activism. This is what makes 38126 a pillar to the change of Black culture and art that continues to inspire artists from all over.