National Civil Rights Museum

A continuation of Intro. to Mini-trip: The South: The National Civil Rights Museum. The museum was an amazing experience. The best was getting a comprehensive view of the fight for rights, from the beginning of slavery in the United States, through the time of Martin Luther King’s death. The museum was well-designed. It began with the exact site of Martin Luther King’s assassination in the front of the museum, the actual hotel parking lot in front of the actual hotel. It continued, winding inside the museum along a visual timeline, and it came full circle, ending inside Martin Luther King’s hotel room, looking out to the parking lot area where he was assassinated.

This part of the trip was a special treat for me because I’ve recently become more interested in political activism, US history, and Civil Rights in particular. I’ve recently watched Malcolm X, a documentary on Emmett Till, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and The Help. As I mentioned in “A Whole Lot of Bill”, my favorite part of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library was the small exhibit on the “Little Rock 9”, and I would love to stand on the site of that school someday.

Particularly memorable were the Rosa Parks bus ride experience, in which you could board the bus she road and have an automated bus driver voice tell you with increased impatience to move from your seat; and the exhibit on civil rights in Chicago – I had no idea how much happened in my own hometown!

I left the museum stunned by how much I’d never known about Civil Rights, amazed at this chance to be present a fully preserved site of such cultural and historical significance, and curious about the many conspiracies theories presented about Martin Luther King’s death. Which were true? Who wanted Dr. King dead? What other plots are being kept from us?

If you get the chance to visit this museum, be sure to see the exhibit across the street, the site of James Earl Ray’s hotel room. You will be introduced pictorially to the friends and acquaintances who were with Martin Luther King at the time of his assassination, you will see the bathtub that he stood in and the window he shot from, and you will be told about the many possible organizations who may have been involved in plotting King’s assassination.
Pictures were not permitted inside the museum.

If you’d like to get a peek inside, here’s the web-site: National Civil Rights Museum. Check “Exhibits”.

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