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Memphis and the Lorraine Motel

Blogs: #6 of 7

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Memphis seems to be a great city, although I need time to actually explore it. Most of the time Iím there itís dealing with the rental car agency. But one trip was worthwhile. If you ever get to Memphis (and are not stumbling around Beale Street) be sure to check out the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

For those of you who donít know, Dr. Martin Luther King was at the Lorraine when he was assassinated. He had come to Memphis to stand in solidarity with the sanitation workers who were on strike against the city. The permanent exhibit is housed in two separate areas, the original museum is in what was the Lorraine Motel, and the former Rooming House across the street, where the fatal shot was fired from.
As someone who has worked at several National Parks, it is very surreal visiting a site like this that has been made into a museum rather than being preserved and having a separate visitor center. I donít have an issue with it, but the fact that both buildings have been essentially gutted and only 3 individual rooms have been preserved in the pair of buildings is a bit strange to me. What I found more disappointing was that in the original exhibits there were many portions that were not clearly labeled. Is this the bus that Rosa Parks was riding on? Who knows, there is no sign making that clear. Is this shell of a burned out Greyhound bus from the 1960s or a mock up?
What they do have going for them is that they have the original signs for the building, this makes it possible to get a feel for what the motel looked like that fateful April day in 1968.

The first photo shows the sign for the Lorraine Motel, along with the southern end of the building. Room 306 canít be seen from this angle due to the trees and the sign.
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The second is essentially the view from the rooming house towards room 306.

This is the angle that the shooter fired from.
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The third photo is a different take entirely.

This is a street scene about one block east from the museum. It gives you some idea of what remains in this neighborhood. If you go a block west there has been designed gentrification, a block east it is like this.
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