Monday, October 27, 2014
Memphis, Tennessee: National Civil Rights Museum
The motel, which was famous for catering to anyone who walked through the door (meaning black and white), eventually went out of business. However, people still came to see the site, so someone in Memphis decided that they ought to learn a bit of history while they were there. Eventually, the National Civil Rights Museum was finished. It opened in 1991.
Almost all of the inside of the building was transformed into a museum. The story of the nation's struggle with the idea that all men and women are created equal is nicely told through a variety of exhibitions, sound clips, videos, etc. Near the end of the tour, visitors can look through some glass and see what Room 306 looked like on that fateful day in April 1968. They also can look out on to the balcony; the window is upstairs to the far right. I'm not sure what the correct word is to describe that view. Perhaps that is for each person to decide.
From there, visitors are sent across the street. There they can learn more about civil rights as well as the investigation into the murder. While you can not stand in the exact room in which James Earl Ray allegedly shot King, you can examine the scene from the window a few feet away. It too is chilling.
By the way, there was a small protest (one woman and a sign) across the street from the museum, one that has been going on for years. She apparently wondered if it was appropriate to spend millions preserving the site of a tragedy. It's an interesting position at least.
The building was remodeled in 2014. It's an affecting experience. Here's a video done just before it reopened:
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