At the Lorraine Motel
The Lorraine motel is the place where Martin Luther King Jr was fatally shot on April 4, 1968. He was leaving to continue his work helping the satination workers strike when he suddenly fell on the balcony in front of his room 306. The killer, James Earl Ray, shot from the bathroom of his board house room across the street. MLK was declared dead at the hospital moments later. The National Civil Rights museum is housed inside the motel and the board house. On the motel side, the exhibit takes us from the slavery of African Americans to their continuous fight to be considered citizens on the same level as white people. After the civil war and the abolition, the federal government helped their cause and gave them the same rights as whites, including the right to vote. But the southern states, bitter from the war and still highly depending on the Black’s cheap labor, made it impossible for them to vote. The African Americans were still seen as a lower race, beaten and lynched by the whites. But they remainded strong, gathering at the churches, building their own schools and standing up for themselves like Rosa Parks did. From this day of December 1, 1955 when she refused to go to the back of the bus, MLK became a speaker of the black’s civil rights cause. And all over those southern states they gave their battles in the most pacific way, with sit-ins and marches while remaining oppressed, humiliated, beaten or lynched. MLK’s leadership was vital and soon most of the black community was relying on him, following him to Washington in 1963 where he made his famous speech “I have a dream”. When president Lyndon B Johnson took the oath that same year things started to change. But even with the Civil Rights acts and the law fully in their favor, African Americans where facing inequity. In 1968 the sanitation workers of Memphis went on strike for better safety and wages after a worker died crushed at the back of a truck. That’swhat brought MLK to Memphis at the Lorraine motel. At the end of the exhibit we get to see his room.
Across the street we get to see the bathroom from where James Earl Ray killed the Reverend. The exhibit next to it tells the whole investigation and shows the evidence (passports, binoculars, weapon…).
It’s a weird feeling leaving this museum, a mix of admiration for the people who fight for equity, and a total disappointment in humanity. Racism is still a major problem over the world, as is homophobia, antisemitism, slavery and more…