Monday, January 18, 2016

Day 18- MLK

Today is such an important day. Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I have a lot of thoughts about racism and segregation and privilege that I will talk about in future blogs, but today I want to share my experience in Memphis at the Lorraine Motel.
It is no secret that Memphis is my favorite city in the USA. The food is amazing. The history is dense. The culture is real. It is not the biggest or most glamorous city. But it speaks to my heart. One of the things it is most known for was that MLK was assassinated there. What a sad and heavy event to be known for. But one of the most beautiful things that came out of it was the Civil Rights Museum that is actually located in what used to be the Lorraine Motel. The outside of the motel has been preserved as if in a time capsule (shown left). But the inside is a journey through the struggle with slavery and segregation in our country. It took us several hours to get through the museum. There is so much to see, and read and learn.
At one point in the museum, they have an actual bus from the 1960s that you can get onto and inside is the story of Rosa Parks and the beginning of the freedom rides. As we were getting off of the bus, a little African American girl (probably 6) and her parents got on the bus. She looked at Trevor and asked him what happened to his eye (as kids do) and her parents were mortified (as parents are) and he explained it to her, and we all laughed and parted ways.
Towards the end of the museum, you walk around a corner and the room that MLK slept in the night before he was shot is encapsulated exactly as it was the day he died. It is the actual room. And you look out of the window, and you see the balcony where he was shot. It is literally about 3 feet from you. There were a lot of near cries in this museum, but this part gave me goosebumps and flipped my stomach upside down. But still, I did not cry. I fought it SO hard.
After this, you cross the street to the annex where the hotel was that the James Earl Ray stayed and shot MLK from. This part of the tour talks all about the forensics and how they found him. Trevor got ahead of me in this section and as I came around the corner, I saw that he was again talking to the couple and their little girl. As soon as Trevor saw me, he said "Oh there she is!" Apparently, the little girl had asked where the pretty lady was (that was ME!!). The little girl turned around and came at me sprinting into a hug. Her parents again were embarrassed but we all laughed. It was seriously so cute. Still mid-hug, she looked up and touched my hair and said "Your hair is so pretty!" I softy grabbed one of her little braids and said "Your hair is so pretty!" Eventually we all parted ways and Trevor and I exited the museum.
The second we were in the car, I burst into tears. It wasn't the museum. It wasn't the history. It was the little girl. It was the fact that the history that that place held had allowed her to run up and hug me. The sacrifices that all of those people made allowed that little girl to touch my hair and talk to me and feel like she was just another human-- just like me. 50 years ago, a little girl would have never done that. She wouldn't have even thought about it! She wouldn't have been able to. But on that day in 2015, she did. And it was ok.
I think that this world has a long way to go in a lot of ways... but I think that there are a lot of beautiful things that have been made possible by the struggle and sacrifices of many. Today we acknowledge MLK and his part in this story.
May we never forget that change can be made through passive resistance and love. And may we never stop fighting for change.


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  2. Wow! How incredibly moving. Towards the end I kind of saw where it was going and when I finally read the ending, I welled up. BEAUTIFUL post. Thank you very much for sharing.

  3. Thank you for sharing such a great memory; I have never been to Memphis but it is on my list and you have made it even more interesting to see.


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