The National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN

This week’s location has been highly ranked on my personal bucket list for years. Maybe because I am still so fascinated by the message and the work that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. represents, but also by the nature of trying to comprehend the way in which history unfolded. The National Civil Rights Museum itself focuses on a much greater depth of history than of the many movements and parts of the Civil Rights Era, though the facility is located and adjoined to the historic site of Dr. King’s assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

The day I arrived, the weather was dismal and dreary. Memphis’ humidity was ever-present; oppressive in it’s own right, despite the sporadic downpours of fat raindrops that would chill for a minute or two as it soaked through a light fleece jacket on my skin.

I walked from my parking location about a third of a mile away from the Museum before the rain really started to progress. The closer I moved toward the destination, the more the rain began to pick up. I knew that there was no way that I would be able to carry the boombox across Memphis, so I opted to use a boombox card carried in my wallet to snap a photo with my phone. There were people moving about, debating whether or not to brave the rain for their own photo. I actually love that the blog logo is blurred a bit in the shot, a product of the elements as well as hoping that it means that the background is a sharper focus.

About two years ago, I started to listen to True Crime podcasts as I would be on the road for work trips. “Sword and Scale”, “Serial”, and “S Town”  as well as “My Favorite Murder” are all personal favorites, especially if in the car for an extended period. It breaks up the monotony of the drives as well as providing relief from having to stress over what to have on in the background as I focus on the road. I bring up the True Crime element as the museum hosts an in depth exploration into the tragic assassination of Dr. King. I didn’t exactly know what to expect, but multiple theories behind the cause of something so irrational in King’s death.

Admittedly, I felt overwhelmed by the National Civil Rights Museum. As I walked through, exhibit after exhibit, I saw violent and hateful acts perpetrated against individuals who were standing up for an ability to live their lives. Individuals who collectively aspired to lives free of discrimination and filled with equal opportunity.

A defining trait of Dr. King’s legacy was his insistence of non violent protest. King’s faith played a large role in his work, as time after time the world watched him “turn the other cheek”. He believed in something greater than just the work of one person, however a person speaking truth out of a place of love and justice was ultimately part of why we celebrate. King famously dared to dream, but also led a movement that held itself to a higher standard than its transgressors.

The track this week is Brandi Carlile singing “Murder In the City”, a cover originally penned by The Avett Brothers. The track this week was slated to be something else, but upon the unsuccessful delivery of the planned record, The Avett Brothers tune came to mind. It’s a simple tune that has powerful lyrics that I imagine in the days before MLK’s death, he might have thought. The original performance of the song wasn’t as readily available, but Brandi’s “The Firewatcher’s Daughter” LP came to the rescue.

So, if we take anything away from this week’s location, I would hope that instead of the overwhelming feeling I needed respite from that day in Memphis doesn’t remain the focus. Instead, I hope to see and focus on the light that was the legacy of a wise and forgiving man in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace to us all.

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