Take a walk down memory lane: A glimpse into African American History

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I absolutely loved the National Civil Rights Museum-At the Lorraine Hotel. It is located in Memphis, Tennessee and it is a historical site that has been in existence for 25 years. Expect to spend several hours in the museum, it will allow you to take your time and explore all of the exhibits. The museum evokes a variety of emotions from sadness, anger, happiness, joy etc. Below are photos of the various exhibits:

A Culture of Resistance 

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1st Image: Georgia’s Bank of Commerce, 1861, A pic of a dollar bill with  Africa American slaves at work.

4th Image: A slave master auctioning off a slave and her child.

5th Image: Slaves chained together on a slave ship.

 The Rise of Jim Crow: 

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During the Jim Crow Era segregation was legal until 1965, African Americans were no longer slaves but they were still experiencing harsh treatment from there white counterparts. AA often used the church for multiple reasons such as religious events, social gatherings, and political movements.

During this time AA believed that education was important but they lacked basic necessities in classrooms. Eventually they integrated but it was very difficult task. It was so bad that they had to be guided by army and police. As as result Historically Black Colleges were formed! Shout out to my HBCU- Howard University!

At this exhibit, you can listen to various peoples experiences during Jim Crow via telephone.

The Year they Walked: Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-1956

During this time Colored folks were asked to sit in the back of the bus. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks was asked to move from her seat because the white section of the bus was filled to capacity. Ms. Parks refused to give up her seat, due to her refusal to move the bus driver called the police and she was arrested. Soon after, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was formed. African Americans rallied and refused to ride the bus for an entire year. The bus system eventually gave in due to losing thousands of dollars.

Did you know that Rosa Parks was not the first person to refuse to move from her seat? Claudette Colvin, was one of the first people who refused to give up her seat. The NAACP did not want her to be the representative because she was an unwed pregnant teenager. NAACP thought Ms. Parks would be a great representative during the Civil Rights Movement.

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Bus driver who kicked Rosa Parks off the bus

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People who refused to ride the bus
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Sitting next to Ms. Rosa Parks

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Standing up by sitting down!

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African Americans were not allowed to sit at counter s in  restaurants. As a result they organized non-violent sit its. Unfortunately they were still subjected to smoke being blown in face, food thrown at them, and being forcefully removed from restaurants etc.

We are prepared to die: The Freedom Rides 

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Freedom riders wanted to ride into southern states to challenge the segregation law regarding buses and trains. Although the law stated it was illegal to segregate on the bus, city officials did not enforce the rules. 14 black and white freedom riders rode in Alabama. The Ku Klux Klan slashed tires, bombed the bus and closed the doors to prevent the freedom riders from getting off the bus. Somehow the riders managed to escape but were beaten after escaping from the bus. These photos represent the bombed bus. This photo made me appreciative because I rode the Grey  Hound bus from Nashville to Memphis and didn’t have to worry about the KKK possibly trying to kill me due to color of my skin.

For Jobs and Freedom: March on Washington 1963

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Martin Luther King Jr., said his famous speech”I have a Dream” In Washington DC at the National Monument.  Do you think Dr. King Jr. dream has been fulfilled?

Selma Voting Rights: 1965

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Fannie Lou was instrumental in helping voters register to vote. She was falsely jailed and beaten with a jack hammer while in prison. Even after that particular incident, she continued to fight for voting laws to be changed.

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These 3  young men went missing after helping with voter registration. They were killed by the KKK and the Mississippi Police Dept.
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President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act: A law that prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

If you have not watched Selma, please rent the movie! It shows the march on Edmund Pettus Bridge and it talks about Bloody Sunday (AA were injured and killed during a non-violent protest) This exhibit is especially important as we have an election coming up . I don’t think many people understand the sacrifices that were made so that I and others can vote.  Go vote! “Some people say my vote doesn’t matter”. Imagine if people had that mentality 50 years ago, we maybe still fighting for our voting rights.

What do we want: Black Power 

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The goal of the Black Panther Party was to challenge police brutality and monitor the police in Oakland Ca. Black Panther Party continues to be a very controversial topic.

Memphis Sanitation Strike 1968

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The Memphis city sanitation workers worked under unfair and dangerous conditions. When it rained Black workers were only allowed to seek shelter in the compressor where the garbage was held. As a result 2 workers, E. Cole and R.Walker were killed. 1300 Sanitation Workers walked off the job in protest. Martin Luther King was apart of the movement and made his last speech at Mason Temple to show his support!

Kings Last Hours

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Seeing the place where King was alive was very emotional for me!
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Standing on the balcony joking and talking before the fatal shot!
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Any time you needed an ambulance you had to contact an operator and they would call for help. Unfortunately the operator on duty had a heart attack after learning King was shot. She died 4 days later.

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King was shot on the balcony in front of room 306

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The Legacy Building 

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Hotel Bathroom where investigators believed the shot came from
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Hotel Room
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In investigation began. Earl Ray James was convicted of killing King. Jr. but it is still unclear if he shot him and if the government was involved in the assassination.
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James Earl Ray get away car
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The view from the hotel, King was presumably shot from this window. As you can see the shooter would have had a perfect aim.

Inspiring Greatness through Words and Deeds: Exhibit by Baret Boisson

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Mahatma Ghandi
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Rosa Parks
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Martin Luther King Jr.
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Nine Killed at Emmanuel Church in Charleston South Carolina
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President Barak Obama

All Pictures were taken by me at the National Civil Rights Museum.

40 Comments

  1. This is hands down my favorite museum. When I visited the Lorraine wasn’t open to see inside but we could walk up on the balcony and they would show us where the shot was fired. I met a man who marched with Dr. King and he was there with his grand kids telling them stories and he was kind enough to include me and my coworker. It was amazing. I’m happy to get to revisit it through your post! I love it!

    • Yes, i haven’t been to a whole lot of museums but I would have to agree this has been the best one so far. I didn’t actually stand on the balcony, nice, I would have loved to do that but i probably would have been even more emotional then what i was..lol Don’t you love when you can meet people who are able to share apart of history. I’m not sure if i wanted to be born during that time,but i can only imagine how it felt to be marching during those times. Glad you could revisit, through my post, hopefully the next time you go to Memphis you can see for your self. Thanks for Reading, miss ya!

  2. Tiffany, thanks for the detailed description and photos of this important museum. Your blog has reminded me that I must visit it soon to honor the legacy of Dr. King and the civil rights movement. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your solo travel adventures!

    • Hey Carol, How are you doing? I was wondering if i had taken too many pictures and if the blog post was long.. But I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed! Yes you have to visit, I’m pretty sure you will love it as much as i did. I always wonder why they talk about Martin Luther King Jr. so much vs. other influential leaders, but i think after watching a documentary and visiting the museum i have a new found appreciation for what he has done. Thank you again for reading!

    • This was my first time going to Memphis, my family used to go ever year for a convention. I was going go back home after leaving Nashville but I’m so glad i decided to extend my stay. Yes if you ever go, this museum is a must see. Everyday you learn something new, perks of waking up every morning.

  3. I truly enjoyed this post. I have wanted to visit this site for a long time. Hopefully I can make it happen soon. You have some really nice images here.

  4. Wow, this post was really great! Thanks for sharing all the photos from the museum and the Lorraine Hotel! I definitely have to visit both. The museum reminds me of the Civil Rights museum in Alabama – that one’s pretty good too, if you ever get a chance to visit.

  5. I wan to go to Memphis specifically to visit this part of history. To learn about individuals that aren’t the mainstream people that is always mention around Black History Month. I didn’t know about Frannie Lou until you posted about it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, im glad this museum is open year around. I love that we havea month to specifically celebrate Black History, but it can be detrimental because think that the only time you are supposed to celebrate is during Feb, forgetting we have the rest of the year. I didn’t learn about Fannie Lou Hammer until i wrote a short script honoring historical African Americans. Thank you for reading

  6. I am African and believe all these should be in textbooks and thought also in school with the current situation in America.
    I wouldn’t say MLK dream is achieved when the 13 years old are killed by the people who are supposed to protect them just for the colour of their skin.
    It is just a big shame that America will care about who is sitting, kneeling or standing at the pledge of allegiance than the lives of all the black people been taken by the armed forces.

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    • I agree! What part of Africa are you from? Did you grow up in the U.S. Or in Africa! You would think it would be in textbooks, but they don’t want us to learn about our history! This is so true, I think Mr. Luther King would be proud in some aspects but may be very dissapointed in other situations. Another young man was recently gunned down by police yet again! Exactly but that’s the reason why he won’t kneel because of what America the Great represents!

  7. Wow. There is so much contained in this museum! I have never been to Memphis but it’s on my list. I didn’t know about the other lady Claudette Colvin who gave up her seat first or that the operator on duty when Rev King was shot had a heart attack! Selma was a excellent movie. It’s important to know how much our ancestors fought for our rights today. Thx for sharing. And I recognize your feature pic as Catalina Island! I was there for the first time last month. It was beautiful!

    • Yes I love Ms. Rosa Parks, but i think history books and others should talk about who really started the movement a teenager! Yes i heard about the operator from a documentary i had watched at the Pan African Film festival several months prior and the museum mentioned it as well.. yes i want every young person to watch videos and go see these types of museums because I dont think they understand at all.. Yes i from California and have been to Catalina for the jazz festival several times. Can you believe this photo was taken with my I phone while on a tour. glad you were able to recognize the photo. Thanks again for your insightful comments they are much appreciated!

  8. Really great post. I always enjoy deep stories of trips like this. I’ve never been to Memphis, but l want to go. I want to see the history and experience it first hand, but you did a good job of taking me along on the journey. I felt like l was there with you. Well done!

  9. When my daughter was a teen, she took a college tour to visit this place. It really moved her and it’s something she’ll never forget!

  10. This is fantastic. I have never had the chance to visit a museum like this. All the history here is naturally focused on Europe and I have not had the change to see any about African American history. I would love to go to visit this place someday.

    • Yes i really enjoyed this museum and the best Ive been too so far. I know need to travel to DC to see the Smithsonian museum. I think its important to show case our history because as we all know they will not teach our history in schools. Hope you get to visit soon!

  11. This is such a well-documented post! It definitely invokes a lot of emotion. I will revisit this post again with my students!

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