In my mind, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. has always been a man to honor. Learning about MLK Jr. was constant a favorite subject of mine in history class. His words, his essence, what he stood for — it is so inspirational to me. I love to be around people who are not afraid to stand by their convictions. I believe the Reverend stood by his convictions until it cost him his life. Sad that we lost a person of his caliber on this Earth but isn’t it amazing how his legacy lives on in those of us who believe in equality and love and the promised land.
I do. I believe it.
It’s wasn’t until I had the chance to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee that I gained an even clearer understanding of this man and the impact he made on the civil rights movement and the lives of people of color.
I was in town on a trip to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (more on that soon) and I was a little bummed that my flight landed much later than expected and my group was already at the museum, ready for the tour. Even though I still had the crust of a six-hour plane flight on me, no makeup, hair a mess, I asked the driver to take me straight there, luggage and all — there was no way I was going to miss a chance to visit this museum. When will I ever be in Memphis again?
My driver was a very polite Southern African-American man. He promised to take me to the museum so I could find my friends. When he pulled over and started to help me with my bags, I stepped out of the car and was not prepared to be face to face with the Lorraine Hotel — the place MLK stayed when he visited Memphis, the place where he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. It was so surreal. It took my breath away.
The National Civil Rights Museum is a complex of museums and historic buildings built around the former Lorraine Motel. So much history and so many things happened right there. Walking through the grounds you can feel it, you can feel the battle that took place here in 1968.
We had a privilege of being led through the museum with a very knowledgeable guide who was very passionate about this time in our history. It made the exhibit come to life for me.
RELATED: MLK Coloring Page
The most touching part of the tour for me was to hear and see some of MLK’s speeches and personal quotes that were posted throughout the exhibit. I sat in tears listening to his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, the one he gave at the Mason Temple the night before he was assassinated. His words were so heavy and prophetic. Walking through the last room he stayed in on the second floor of the Lorraine Motel made my heart thump in my chest. It was like we were walking on hallowed ground. The sadness was palpable and I felt it in my spirit.
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s life is still giving God’s testimony of love, all these years later. He is as powerful as ever, even in death.
For more information, visit: National Civil Rights Museum