I had the opportunity, for the first time, to visit Memphis, TN last year. One of the places I knew I had to visit was the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and as importantly, the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.
To say that standing in the parking lot, below the balcony in front of room 306 was poignant would be ridiculously understated. There probably aren't enough words to describe exactly what it was, emotionally, to be there. Suffice it to say, that it was smaller than I imagined, and still echoing the cries of millions.
The thing is, at a spot where we experienced one of the darkest moments in our history here in the States, there was light everywhere. The employees, the volunteers, the visionaries who created and run the NCRM have wrestled away the darkness from this place, and shone a light of hope and equality and freedom for everyone.
They say you can't know where you're going until you know where you've been. Nowhere is that more true than in Memphis, TN at the National Civil Rights Museum.
We're 40+ years on now, and plenty of us are still not "judged by the content of our character." To say that we have not come a long way would be wrong, but to pretend we don't still have a long way to go would be just as wrong.
Keep the dream alive. Keep this place a tangible touchstone for us, and our kids, and their kids, and theirs.
In thanks for your generosity, the first 10 people to donate to this project will receive a free copy of each of my 2 books of poems, published in the mid 1990s and now out of print. They may not change your life, but hey, they're free! Tom Benton has already won an unopened copy of the Academy Award nominated documentary The Witness (trailer at left).
Please give. $20 (or more) would be nice, but anything is helpful and appreciated. Please help spread the word.
"Martin Luther King didn't die in some foolish way. He didn't overdose. He wasn't shot by a jealous lover. He wasn't shot leaving the scene of a crime. He was a man with an earned PhD degree at 28, a Nobel Peace Prize . . . Oratorical skills off the charts. All the things he could have been, U.N. ambassador, big churches all over America. He could have been a university president. All the things he could have been, and here he is with all these skills, dying on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, helping garbage workers." ~Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles