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.
Is this America? - Mississippi Summer Project 1964. This is also known as the Freedom Summer. The purpose of this movement was to increase the number of black registered voters in Mississippi. James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were three men murdered by law enforcement after being arrested for speeding outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi.
How Long? Not Long. - Selma Voting Rights Campaign 1965. When black people registered to vote they had an extreme risk to their families safety, their jobs and their churches. There were two unsuccessful attempts to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The first attempt was “Bloody Sunday” on March 7, 1965. The second attempt was on March 9, 1965. The state troopers were going to let them pass, but Dr. King stopped the march and led the people back to the church to obey the federal injunction and wait for federal protection. On March 21, 1965 the march to Selma began with protection from the Alabama National Guard, FBI agents and federal marshals. March 24, 1965 they arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. March 25, 1965 thousands of people showed up to support voting rights and Dr. King delivered his "How Long, Not Long" speech from steps of the Alabama state capitol.
What Do We Want? - Black Power. The Black Power moved of the 1960’s and 1970’s if often referred to as a radical new movement. In actuality it was a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement because it encouraged racial pride and economic empowerment.
Join the Movement. Nonviolence, women's rights, war, riots, poverty and integration are all still relevant. In 2020 we are experiencing riots while still trying to get white people to understand the effects of systemic racism and prejudices.
I Am A Man - Memphis Sanitation Strike 1968. - The iconic strikers with the "I Am a Man" signs and the garbage truck from the original exhibition are here. Film documenting the sanitation strike is projected upon the garbage truck. New to the exhibit is the Mountaintop Theatre, showing the powerful "Mountaintop" speech, the last one Dr. King gave the evening before he died.
King's Last Hours - Rooms 306 and 307.April 3, 1968 Dr. King checked in to room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.He had returned to march with the sanitation workers who were on strike.On the eve of the March he attended a rally where he gave the famous speech “I’ve Seen The Promised Land”.April 4, 1968 Dr. King spent the day with his aides waiting to hear if the federal court was going to allow the sanitation workers march.Around six o’clock that evening they were heading out for dinner, but they would never make it. Shortly after they stepped onto the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at 39 years old.
As a full service travel agent I can organize your trip to Memphis, Tennessee.