While musical pilgrimage may have been our trip’s key goal, we had another: visiting the Lorraine Motel, home of the National Civil Rights Museum, and the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. It was a powerful and transformative experience.
Given our next president has proven himself to be an ableist, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, racist, misogynistic, sexist, homophobic, authoritarian demagogue; we thought we should see first hand the struggle for civil rights to which Dr. King sacrificed his life before we head to Washington D.C. ourselves to join hundreds of thousands of others in the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st.
This museum is a
national international treasure. We spent over three and a half hours here and felt rushed through the exhibits. You could have taken an entire day. It spans the entire legacy of African American history and goes deep into the civil rights movement Dr. King led; the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the protests, the marches. It examines the deep-seated hate and racial divisions in this country, many of which we are starting to see slither forth again from whatever rock they’ve been hiding under in the wake of Trump’s election and a Republican majority in Congress. It was powerful, moving, and inspiring, reinforcing our commitment to civil rights, our Constitution, and the social progress this Nation has made.
One of the last exhibits is a solemn viewing of Dr. King’s room as it was left April 4, 1968. There are no words, only silence, and reflection.
Music and social consciousness often go hand-in-hand. In fact, there’s a whole section of the museum dedicated to the music of the movement. It lent my ear a new listening perspective on our record collection and showed us how intertwined in our lives our with song and sound. It also revealed a connection to the music of Memphis which we’d experience more in-depth in our visits to Sun Records, Stax, and Graceland.