The National Civil Rights museum is located in Memphis, Tennessee. This is a very interactive museum that takes you through the U.S. (American) Civil Rights Movement from slavery (1619) to Dr. King’s assassination in April 1968. The quest for civil rights began nearly 400 years ago when the first enslaved Africans were brought to America. As I write this blog post in 2020 the fight for civil rights for black people is at an all-time high.
Below I have given you brief descriptions of the areas of the museum that I was able to visit. I encourage you to take your education further to read up on these monumental moments in civil rights history.
A Culture of Resistance Slavery in America 1619-1861. This area has information about the Atlantic slave trade and provides education about the people brought to America and how they worked to create wealth for white people.
The Rise of Jim Crow 1877 – 1968. Jim Crow laws were created to oppress African Americans by denying them the right to get an education, obtain jobs or vote. This are has information on amendments and legislation that granted rights to African Americans. There is also information about the laws and Supreme Court decisions that took these rights away.
Separate is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education (1954). This area breaks down the Supreme Court decision and explains the difficulty of desegregation of the public school system. In Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the Supreme Court outlawed segregated public education facilities for blacks and whites at the state level.
The Year They Walked - Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-1956. Black people took a stand against segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama by refusing to ride the city buses. Rosa Parks was fined four days prior to the boycott for failing to give her seat to a white man. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the leaders of the boycott.
Standing Up by Sitting Down - Student Sit-Ins 1960. In Greensboro, North Carolina a group of black students sat at a Woolworth’s lunch counter and refused to leave after being denied service. David Richmond, Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil were the four young black men who staged the first sit-in.
We Are Prepared to Die - The Freedom Rides 1961. Black and white civil rights activist rode buses into the segregated south after the 1960 Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in bus and train terminals. These activist took these rides to challenge the states that were still trying to force segregated seating.
The Children Shall Lead Them - Birmingham 1963. On Friday April 12, 1963 Dr. King was arrested after violating an anti-protest injunction and he was kept in solitary confinement in the Birmingham, Alabama jail. This is where he wrote the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in response to a group of white clergy who had criticized his use of nonviolent civil disobedience.
For Jobs and Freedom - March On Washington 1963. August 28, 1963 there was large protest in Washington, D.C.to bring attention to the civil and economic inequalities that still existed for black people.