Friday, May 20, 2016

On the Road, Memphis and the National Civil Rights Museum

Well, I'm happy to report that I'm feeling like my old self again.  The last round of doctoring and drugs cleared away the rash and hives that covered too much of my body.  And, I'm very happy to report that Opus has a new alternator and we are finally on the road.  The extra time we spent in Louisiana changed our travel plans that had included a stop in Little Rock to tour the capitol and to see friends we had met at Betty's.  We left Poche's on Tuesday and had an easy 200 mile drive to Vicksburg and then another 210 mile drive to Memphis up Highway 61.  As we have been along this route before there were no tourist stops, just driving until we got to Memphis.
Our site at Poche's was surrounded by three lakes and we had a great time watching the birds.  The great blue heron was a very good fisherman.
A beautiful egret in flight.
Since we were less than 50 miles from Betty's over the weekend we drove to Abbeville for one last happy hour this year.  Betty's season is winding down and she will be closing for the summer to recharge her batteries.  We are looking forward to seeing her in North Carolina in August.
On Monday we had a 1:00 PM appointment at Louisiana Kenworth to have the alternator changed.  It seems that anytime we need to have Opus worked on at a "truck" place they let the youngest mechanic work on the RV.  That said, we were happy with the young man who installed the alternator and we now have full electric power.
We hit the road on Tuesday and crossed the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.  Even after cruising down the river from New Orleans last month it still amazes me that these big ocean ships come this far up the river.
The drive on Highway 61 is a bit slower but much more relaxing than traveling the interstate.  Most of the road is four lanes and very flat with little traffic.  The is the water tower at the Crossroads in Clarksdale, the home of the blues.  We stayed here before and visited many stops on the Mississippi Blues Trails.
The National Civil Rights Museum is in the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.  The museum, which has been open since 1991, underwent a major renovation in 2014.  
Walking into the area the first thing you see is the wreath on the balcony where Dr. King was standing when he was shot.  I remember the photos of that day with other civil rights leaders standing with Dr. King.
Looking from room 306 at the boarding house across the street from where James Earl Ray fired the shot.  It is quite chilling to be standing at that spot.  There is a display about Ray in the old boarding house. 
Room 306 where Dr. King stayed while he was in Memphis in support of the striking garbage truck drivers.  Pretty typical of so many motel rooms at that time. 
The museum follows the struggle for civil rights and the culture of resistance dating back to the first slaves who were brought to America in 1619.  The photos show the harsh conditions of the passage from Africa and the selling and separation of families as they were sold.  Ironically, these words are on the wall around the top of the room, " We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal."
A section about the Underground Railroad looks at the routes and people who worked to bring slaves out of the South to freedom in Canada.  Washington, PA is on the map as a stop on the railroad where there were many abolitionists.  The lantern figure when lighted was used as a sign that the house was a safe place.  The box is like the one used by Henry "Box" Brown who had himself shipped to Philadelphia and freedom. 
Another section deals with the rise of the Klan and Jim Crow laws.   This happened after the federal government stopped protecting Blacks in the South, thus ending Reconstruction, a period after the Civil War when many former slaves where elected into the government.   Finally in 1954 the Supreme Court's Brown v Board of Education ruled that separate education was not equal education giving the civil rights movement new energy.  
Several displays deal with Dr. King's role in the civil rights movement including his arrest in Birmingham, the I Have a Dream speech at the March on Washington and his support for the striking garbage truck drivers in Memphis.  There is also a section on the rise of the black power and pride movement in the 1960's.
This section deals with events from Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, to the lunch counter sit-ins, to the freedom rides and the violent response, Bloody Sunday and the march from Selma to Montgomery.  We have visited many civil rights sites during our travels where you get a much more in depth look at the events of the time.  That said, the Civil Rights Museum is a great overall look at this struggle for rights that continues to this day. 
After the Civil Rights Museum we lightened it up with a stop on Beale Street to listen to some blues.  We were happy they had music in the afternoon so we did not have to stay up too late:)

We have made plans for the next couple of weeks as we head north.  From Memphis we will be spending a couple of days with our friends Charles and Sandy in Lewisburg, TN.  Then on Tuesday we are heading to Frankfort, KY to tour the capitol building.  We have a reservation for Memorial Day weekend in Ohio and hope to add the capitol to our list.  Then we are stopping to see our friends Jim and Darlene at their new retirement home in Senecaville, OH.  We had some extra time and decided to spend the weekend in WashPA to see family and friends before going to visit Mike and Sherri at their cabin at Pymatuning Lake in northern PA.  It is great to be back on the road.  


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice lesson, Teach!

Peg Quinn said...
Have you ever stayed at this park when you are in Memphis? It's one of our favorites. Glad to hear you're feeling better:)