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Friday, October 22, 2010

Memphis, Tennessee

Let me begin this post with a note to some of the wonderful people I've met on my journey so far: For future reference, if your hometown/state/region happens to be the site of a popular story about intolerant, inbred, sodomizing killers, please resist the urge to share this fact with any future travelers you may come across. Some of us travel with a willful, highly selective amnesia, and like it just like that.... :)

Ok, so with that out of the way, let me say immediately I have met the most wonderful people here in Tennessee.

After holing up for 3 days in the Scottish Inns near Graceland in Memphis, I figured I should at least try to visit the famous Beale Street and the Lorraine Motel.

Beale Street --- what can i say, meh. I much prefer Bourbon Street.

The Lorraine Motel, on the other hand, loomed large in my memory. Being the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I've seen a thousand times the picture of Rev. Jackson and others on that balcony pointing immediately after the shot.

I did not know what happened to the motel. Was it even still there. Was anything special done with the site, or had it been neglected and allowed to run down?

According to my Garmin, the site's now caller the Civil Rights Museum. That's got to be a good thing, right?

As I approach, the sign post is immediately recognizable to me. 

As I cruise by looking for a parking spot, I notice a protest. Jacqueline Smith has been set up in this location for over 22 years. Basically since she was forcibly evicted from the hotel before it's conversion to a museum.
One of her many signs reads "You are entering the $10 million shrine to James Earl Ray". 
Well .. really.. I'm not trying to support that.

Her basic premise is that to honour the vision of Dr. King, you need to look forward, not backwards. She says honouring his legacy means opposing the gentrification of downtown Memphis around the hotel, and the subsequent dislocation of poor Black folk.
Jacqueline Smith

She makes a powerful point. 

All I really wanted in any case was to see the balcony where the good Rev. Dr. last stood...

I decided not to go inside. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Dee, really enjoying your journey blogs! Thanks for introducing us to Jacqueline Smith, very interesting point of view and passion. Live your life bro!