Inside the Lorraine Motel, Memphis

Inside the Lorraine Motel, Memphis

Paving stones show the path of a bullet. At one end stands a man in a bathtub. At the other an orator of dreams and promised lands falls to the ground.

The Memphis scene of Martin Luther King’s assassination is now the National Civil Rights Museum and we spent six hours there absorbing the compelling, shocking and ultimately inspiring stories of suffering, defiance, sacrifice and campaigning.

But there is a tension within the museum. It tells the story of slavery, constitutional amendments, disinterested Presidents, Jim Crow Laws, freedom riders, Edmund Pettus Bridge, Birmingham, etc etc superbly but then loses the plot by focusing too much on James Earl Ray and the conspiracy theories. In that respect Jacqueline Smith (see picture below) has a point.

But importantly the museum challenges us to reflect on segregation today. The signs above the doors have gone, but not the separating walls. Think of the increasing division in British schools caused by religious/cultural/economic factors, and the neighbourhood ghettoes in American towns and cities.

This is Jacqueline Smith’s protest site outside the Lorraine Motel where she used to work. She’s been here everyday for the last 29 years calling the museum The James Earl Ray Memorial and campaigning for the building to be turned into something that helps the homeless and poor. Roger spoke to her and just wishes she could be given a building elsewhere (and some $$$$) to channel her undoubted drive and sincerity

One thought on “Inside the Lorraine Motel, Memphis

  1. I feel many of the same attitudes are there in how the media, and many people too, view refugees. In this respect the “I am a man” image is particularly strong – perhaps today they need to say “I am a human”….


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