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The Civil Rights Museum

- Hye Sung

When people make their way to Memphis, Tennessee, they usually plan on a day trip to Graceland, the former residence of Elvis. But in reality, there is so much more to Memphis than that. I could go on and on about the restaurants, as you probably know from my many posts on food, but there are also a lot of fun and even meaningful things to do in Memphis. One of the places that you need to visit when in Memphis is the Civil Rights Museum.

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The museum is located in the Lorraine Hotel, the location where Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated. The museum was recently renovated and re-opened after a year of being closed. On April 5th, it reopened with even more powerful and even interactive exhibits.

The museum is a moving, enlightening, inspiring, and humbling experience. Each exhibit immerses visitors in the story of the oppression of Black Americans, and their struggle for equality. Their permanent exhibits include ‘A Culture of Resistance: Slavery in America’, ‘Standing Up By Sitting Down: Student Sit-Ins 1960’, ‘The Year They Walked: Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-1956’, ‘We Are Prepared To Die: Freedom Rides 1961’, and ‘What Do We Want?: Black Power’.

Exhibitions on the ‘rise of Jim Crow’, King’s last hours, the march on Washington, and many others are also currently found in the museum.

Many of the exhibits are artistic, incredibly interactive, and are a multimedia experience, like ‘The Children Shall Lead Them: Birmingham 1963’. This exhibit is in a jail cell, where audio of Dr. Martin Luther King is played reading from his famous ‘Letter From a Birmingham Jail’. The wall is covered with the global media coverage of the campaign, concluding with John F. Kennedy calling a civil rights bill to be passed. This multimedia immersion is common in the exhibits at the museum. 40 new films are included in these renovated, interactive exhibits.

The room where King stayed in his last days in the only part of the hotel that has been left unchanged.

There’s a lot to say about the museum, with its artifacts, recordings, and the way you are consumed by the reality of racism and oppression, and the fight for equality, but I can only urge people to make their way to the museum. This museum is enough reason to come to Memphis.

For information on visiting the museum: http://civilrightsmuseum.org/visit/

 

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