The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis

Saturday, 1 July 2017 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, House of the Month, Museums, Exhibitions
Reading Time:  5 minutes

Lorraine Motel © DavGreg/cc-by-sa-3.0

Lorraine Motel © DavGreg/cc-by-sa-3.0

The National Civil Rights Museum is a complex of museums and historic buildings in Memphis in Tennessee; its exhibits trace the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 17th century to the present. The museum is built around the former Lorraine Motel, where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Two other buildings and their adjacent property, also connected with the King assassination, have been acquired as part of the museum complex. On October 21, 2016, the museum was honored by becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate museum.

The museum re-opened in 2014 after renovations that increased the number of multi-media and interactive exhibits, including numerous short movies to enhance features. The museum is owned and operated by the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation, based in Memphis. The Lorraine Motel is owned by the Tennessee State Museum and leased long term to the Foundation to operate as part of the museum complex.

Statues of Protesters with Signage © Adam Jones, Ph.D./cc-by-sa-3.0 Statues of Protesters with Signage © Adam Jones, Ph.D./cc-by-sa-3.0 © Thomas R Machnitzki/cc-by-sa-3.0 Lorraine Motel © DavGreg/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Timothy W Willis/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Statues of Protesters with Signage © Adam Jones, Ph.D./cc-by-sa-3.0
The complex is located at 450 Mulberry Street, with all properties except the Lorraine Motel owned by the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation. The motel is owned by the State of Tennessee and operated by the Foundation under a 20-year lease with the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville. The main museum is located on the south edge of downtown Memphis in what is now called the South Main Arts District. It is about six blocks east of the Mississippi River. The main 4.14-acre (16,800 m2) site includes the museum, the Lorraine Motel, and associated buildings. The museum also owns the Young and Morrow Building at 422 Main Street. This was where James Earl Ray initially confessed (and later recanted) to shooting King. The complex includes Canipe’s Amusement Store at 418 Main Street, next to the rooming house where the murder weapon with Ray’s fingerprints was found. Included on these grounds is the brushy lot that stood between the rooming house and the motel. The museum exhibits a number of vehicles of historic value or just relevant to the time period. Vehicles on display include an International Harvestor Garbage Truck in an exhibit on the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike that brought King to Memphis, James Earl Ray’s Ford Mustang, Cadillacs from the period parked outside motel, a recreation of the burned shell of a Greyhound bus Freedom Riders and a bus representative of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

At the end, the Lorraine Motel housed temporary guests and residents as an SRO. The last resident was Jacqueline Smith, who had lived there since 1973 while working for the motel as a housekeeper. When the motel was closed in 1988, Smith had to be forcibly evicted by sheriff’s deputies. The neighborhood at the time around the Lorraine Motel was a lower-income, predominantly black area. Owners of these properties have demolished the houses, redeveloping the area with more expensive apartments and condominiums. This was related to other rejuvenation of the downtown area and the inclusion of the museum in the arts district. Smith set up camp across the street and has maintained a protest vigil. In 2010 she was quoted as saying that the Lorraine:

…should be put to better uses, such as housing, job training, free college, clinic, or other services for the poor…the area surrounding the Lorraine should be rejuvenated and made decent and kept affordable, not gentrified with expensive condominiums that price the people out of their community.

She thought King would have objected to having $27 million spent on a building for him, and to evicting motel residents. In 2014 Smith continued her protest vigil, regardless of weather.

Read more on National Civil Rights Museum and Wikipedia National Civil Rights Museum. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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