Saturday, January 19, 2013

He had a Dream

Known for his non-violent leadership and his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, Rev. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel while in Memphis, TN.*

In an important and smart meld of repurposing/ meaningfully saving a site, the former lodging is now the National Civil Rights Museum at The Lorraine Motel. 1960s-era cars are parked in the lot; a wreath and plaque** call attention to the second floor where a sniper's bullet fatally hit King in the neck; and the classic motel sign declares "I HAVE A DREAM." Vintage neon motel signage coexists with the museum's contemporary banners.

The museum's site gives a history of the hotel/motel and of the assassination as well as   tools demonstrating life during segregation. (Even in 2012, the museum's location gave a hint of the un-fancy areas receptive to black sojourners.

A gate at the museum contains some of the speech Dr. King gave the night before his death:
 "I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
According to info on the History channel, King's assassination spurred President Lyndon Johnson to urge Americans to "reject the blind violence" that had killed King. Johnson prevailed upon Congress to pass the civil rights legislation then entering the House of Representatives for debate. On April 11, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, also known as the Fair Housing Act.

The museum logo isn't an absolute success, but history and the overall complex are so powerful that to nitpit about the logo is an embarrassing quibble.

Thanks to Kay Casstevens, who suggested that we pay tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. after seeing Graceland, home of the other King.

 *to support a sanitation workers' strike.
**I didn't know there was a passage in about slaying the dreamer.

1 comment:

Suzanne Dell'Orto said...

I had no idea this was there when I visited "the other King"!