I didn't expect to be so moved by our recent visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis TN.
The walk through the Museum itself reminded me of several things I had forgotten about the history of the civil rights struggle in America, and the exhibits inside the Museum were outstanding
But it was the exhibits outside the Museum that really got to me.
You get off the trolley on South Main Street, walk down some steps through a little park, and when you realize you’re standing right in front of the Lorraine Motel -- exactly as it was in 1968 -- you’re hit by the full impact of Martin Luther King's assassination , and it takes your breath away.
Then you walk across the street, through a tunnel and into the actual rooming house from which James Earl Ray fired the shot. The room that Ray occupied, and the open second-floor bathroom window from which the shot was fired, are also exactly as they were in 1968.
It was truly chilling to stand in the bathroom of that rooming house, looking out the window that gave Ray a clear shot across the street, to the balcony just outside room 306.
The exhibits that document Ray’s journey after the assassination and prior to his capture reinforce the theory that he was well financed, and could not have acted alone.
It is a blessing that the motel and rooming house were saved from demolition so that they can provide a living history component to the Museum.
If you’re ever in Memphis, be sure to make this your first stop, ahead of Graceland .