Sunday, September 6, 2009

Memphis - Civil Rights Museum

Saturday we went to the National Civil Rights Museum. It's housed in the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, the site of Dr. King's assassination. It's a powerful place. You start off with a movie showing some of the speeches, and then there is a long time line along the walls of the museum. It starts with the early abolitionists and goes until Dr. King's death. Much of it is difficult reading. One of the most impressive displays was of the sit-ins at the southern lunch counters. They had footage from one of the drugstores. Two men and one woman sat, all day, in silence while local whites tapped cigar ash into their hair, poured soft drinks on them and taunted them horribly. Regular people doing extraordinary things. They were so brave.

The wreath on the balcony is where Dr. King was standing when he was shot.

Dr. King and members of his group were standing on the balcony chatting prior to going to dinner when he was shot. These two cars are not the original cars, but are representative of the cars that they were driving to dinner. Behind the curtains are recreations of rooms 306 and 307, furnished as they were that day.

Across the street from the hotel is a boarding house. James Earl Ray rented a room on the second floor. Using a rifle with a scope he fired from a bathroom window and shot Dr. King; he was 39 years old when he died.

Allow several hours for this museum. It's worth it.

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