April 4

As this is the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (04/04/1968), I’ll ask you to take a minute and check out the National Civil Rights Museum which was built in and around the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee–the very place where Dr. King was struck down.

As an ex-Memphian, I do have mixed feelings about the National Civil Rights Museum. First, when I worked at Garrow and Assoc. (an archaeological contract firm in Memphis that was then located across the street from the Lorraine), I witnessed first hand the displacement of many working poor from the premises prior to the creation of the museum…That’s right, leave it to Memphis to kick out poor folks (many of whom were people of color) in order to build a shrine to Dr. King. Click here to check out the 14 year protest of Jacqueline Smith–the last tenant of the Lorraine Motel–and find out why she urges folks to boycott the NCRM.

My second reservation is that the exhibits at the NCRM might lead an uninformed visitor to believe that the Civil Rights Movement stopped when MLK was assassinated (the exhibits end with the room where he spent his last hours and continue across the street in the building from which he was shot). Although, on the other hand, I’ll give them points for their recent inclusion of interpretations of the black power movement (i.e. the Black Panthers and Malcolm X).

These caveats aside, I really do believe in the museum’s general message and mission… so, check them out on the web…or better yet, visit the museum in person…But put your “critical reading” glasses on.

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Categories: history

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