Before last week, I had no idea the National Civil Rights Museum even existed. I’m glad that part of my blogger trip to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital included a guided tour through the museum. Everyone needs to visit Memphis so they can walk through the National Civil Rights Museum. (More about my visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in a separate post.)
The NCR is built into the Lorraine Motel, a black owned hotel in Memphis. It’s also the last place Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr slept before his assassination on April 4, 1968.
See where the white car is? Right above it is the balcony where Dr. King stood when he was shot. A red and white wreath hangs from the railing near the spot.
A replica of the Student Sit-Ins of 1960 also features clips from training videos for participants. There were also videos of the violences the students received, but they believed in Dr. King’s no violence philosophy.
The museum is incredibly comprehensive. I’m not familiar with the details or specific movements of the Civil Rights Movement but our tour guide walked us through it. He brought history to life. The Montgomery Bus Boycott exhibit features a bus the same exact model as the one where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. This begin the yearlong bus boycott.
The Freedom Rides exhibit was an eye opener for me. I wasn’t familiar with this part of the movement nor the people who participated in it.
The Memphis Sanitation Strike exhibit
From the Jobs for All exhibit
Black Panther poster from the Black Pride 1966-1975 exhibit.
The last exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum ends with two hotel rooms, the only ones left in the Lorraine Motel. Our group hung on every word as our tour guide recounted the last hours of Dr. King’s life.
Walking through the museum was a sobering experience. Our country has come a long way with civil rights. But I can’t help but see history repeating itself as I watched footage from the massacre at Selma, Alabama. It’s disheartening to see how little our country has progressed since then.
I’m coming off a bit bleak, but I didn’t feel that way at all during our tour through the museum. The exhibits are incredibly well done and have honored the movement and the people involved. It covers a part of our history that needs to be remembered forever.
Without these men and women, I wouldn’t have been able to vote today.
The museum reminded me that our fights for civil rights and justice for people of color still continues.
Continue to speak up and push for change.