Monday, May 31, 2010

The Other Side of Memphis

Roaming Memphis in the bright of day is sobering. At least, that's how we felt on Monday as we readied to head back to New York. Our last stop on our list was the National Civil Rights Museum, and I don't think there could have been a more appropriate way to spend our last few hours.

In the blur of Blues, ribs and beer it is almost easy to forget that Memphis was the city in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968. He was killed on the balcony of The Lorraine Motel, which has been turned into the museum. It is eye-opening and, in my opinion, a must for anyone.

Before you enter the exhibit you watch a screening of the Oscar-nominated 'The Witness,' narrated by Rev. Billy Kyles, who was with Dr. King the night he died. If at the end you aren't holding back tears then you missed the whole point of the film.

Wind your way through the history of American civil rights. What makes this exhibit that much more meaningful is that it is located in the South. I don't think it would have hit me as hard were it located in New York.

The museum takes you up to room #306, Dr. King's room. Here you can look out a glass window onto the balcony where he was murdered. There really aren't any words to capture this experience - at least none that wouldn't sound forced and corny. Just go for yourself. Adult admission is $13 and I would carve out three hours to do it properly. You do not want to rush.

We meandered down to Beale Street and although a good handful of people roamed in and out of the blues clubs and restaurants, it looked more like a ghost town compared to the past two nights. We even made an attempt to get back to Ground Zero to find out the name of Johnny's band (I feel stupid that I can't remember), but seeing it empty and silent was eerie and another reminder that the journey really was over.

I'll be raving about this trip for a very long time. I cannot wait to get back and I will recommend Memphis to anyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment