on March 16, 2001
This was the most poignant of museums that I visited. This museum traces the struggles of the civil rights movement in this country and it is housed in The Lorraine Hotel, which is the place that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assasinated. As you enter the courtyard to the museum you see two cars that have remained parked in the same spot since that fateful day, April 4, 1968 and the memorial reef that sits on the balconey. As you enter there is a huge black granite wall that shows people climbing a moutain and inscribed with text. You then move to an area that begins to trace the struggles of african -americans in this country dating back to slavery. There are numerous areas that have audio and video presentations, a Klan Outfit in a glass case, and voices of everyday people who took part in the struggle. There is a section of the Greyhound bus that was bombed while Freedom riders were on it. There is the bus that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on which you can enter. As you board there is a life size statue of the bus driver in his seat and another of Mrs. Parks in hers and an audio to the exchange between them. There is a cell that is set up the same as the one MLK, Jr. was in when arrested in Montgomery and a copy of the letter that he sent his wife. There are so many exhibits that bring the struggle to life that they would be too many to name but these two must be mentioned. The "I am a Man" exhibit that chronicles the Memphis Garbage strike which brought Dr. King, to Memphis has a truck and a ton of garbage around life sized picketers. I shed tears throughout this museum because it is so intense and powerful to see. Then there is the final place on the tour, The King Room, which is where he stayed before he was killed. It is the same as it was the day he was killed and it was at this point that I broke down and had to be consoled. I remember the day MLK, Jr. was killed and the reaction of my family and as I heard the song, "Precious Lord Take MY Hand" playing I remembered vividly the reactions of my great-grandmother, my aunts, uncle's and cousins as we were all gathered as a family and my grand mother and mother who joined us later. I remembered my confusion as a 7 year old child to see the people I loved the most in the world crying because of his death. The tour drained me emotionally but I believe this is a must see. History come alive. It is $6.00 for adults and the museum is open six days a week, closed on Tues. except in Feb..
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