The National Civil Rights Museum


The Lorraine Motel is the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King.

In many ways I find segregation and its associated racism harder to fathom than slavery. Don’t get me wrong – slavery is by far the bigger evil. But the world in the 1700s and even 1800s was vastly different from the world today. Women also had few rights, and there was no widespread communications or sharing of knowledge.

So I can understand how slavery existed in the 1700s and early 1800s. And those who fought against slavery then were in some ways ahead of their time.

But what astonishes me about segregation is that it was still happening in the 1950s and 1960s. In New Zealand for example Europeans and Maori had been living and working together for 100 years (not perfectly albeit). Yet in parts of the US there were separate buses, schools, and military units. You had the astonishing scenes in Arkansas where the Little Rock 9 were kept out of the school they were legally enrolled in by the Democrat Governor ordering the National Guard to stop them. Then amazingly President Eisenhower federalised the national guard and ordered the 101st Airborne Division and the National Guard to accompany them to school. They protected those nine students from assaults and worse, to allow them to study at the school they wanted.

MLK was the voice of the civil rights movement. His “I have a dream” speech is iconic, and he was a force for good. That is not to say he was unblemished and I (or anyone) agree with everything he did or advocated. but he was the spiritual leader of millions of blacks just wanting their basic human rights – and he was killed for that.


The memorial plaque.


Room 306 is the room he was staying in, and it was on the balcony outside where he was shot.


This is where James Earl Ray fired from. The whole building is now the National Civil Rights Museum and a fascinating catalog of both the political and legal civil rights struggles, but also the life and death of MLK, and like with JFK the various theories about if it was the work of more than one person.


This is the view from next to where the shooter was. A fairly easy target.


The FBI did well to track him down as he was using multiple identities, as these posters show.


This woman, a former resident and housekeeper at the motel, has been protesting for 25 years against the museum. Nutty, but determined.

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