Sunday, April 13, 2014

National Civil Rights Museum

When I spoke to my boss' boss before this trip, he suggested that it was well worth our while to take the time to visit the National Civil Rights Museum.

I have to say, this is one of the most compelling, well done history museums I've ever visited.  What really gets your attention from the start on this is that the museum is housed inside the motel where MLK was assassinated.  This is it, the old Lorraine Motel:

Over on the left of this picture, you can see a wreath, that commemorates the exact spot where MLK was gunned down.  Here's a closer look from the front of the hotel:

Going through the museum, there's an incredible amount of informative, well presented history of the American civil rights movement.  Apparently we were lucky enough to be here in Memphis right after it was re-opened following a major renovation.  The bottom line here is that to try to capture it all in pictures, or a write-up would be impossible.  You could literally spend days going through all the detail that's available in this museum.  It's incredibly well done and very humbling.

As a person of western/eastern European roots, I have to say that it's a little uncomfortable, at least self reflective to walk through this museum.  Personally, me nor my ancestors had anything to do with the slave trade.  However, as you make your way through this museum, it's hard not to feel at least a little awkward reading about the history of oppression in America and the role of western European countries in the atrocities of slavery.

Add to that the reality of the situation of standing beside a white guy wearing an Ole Miss sweatshirt while standing in the vicinity of the Ole Miss riot section of the museum.  For those who aren't aware of what America went through when James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi, I strongly suggest that you watch the 30 for 30 documentary that ESPN produced.  It just kinda makes you shake your head trying to reconcile what the guy was thinking as he got dressed this morning, knowing that he was going to visit this museum.

Moving on to our reality, I really like how this picture of Carol with a sculpture of Rosa Parks brings home the mood of the afternoon.  When you walk on to the front of this bus, a simulated audio clip of the bus driver barks at you to move to the back of the bus.  Obviously, it's nothing like the real fear of the actual event, but it at least makes you think:

Finally, here's an interesting pledge from the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights that we could all get some benefit from considering and living up to on a daily basis:

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