Most of you reading this are in America so do you get to see Dr Who on BBC America? Last night in the UK was the third episode with the new Doctor and her crew. It was a particularly poignant storyline with time travellers influencing history. Star Trek have done it, Quantum Leap did it with JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald and Dr Who last night (October 21) with Rosa Parks.
Dr Who had to maintain the historical timeline whilst another time traveller was trying to upset the facts and tilt the future to another conclusion.
Anyway this got me thinking about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jnr and visiting the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where the National Civil Rights Museum is built around the balcony that King was assassinated in 1968. Also the Martin Luther King Historical Site in Atlanta is the only city National Park in America and where he lays in rest next to his beloved wife Coretta. Their tomb is surrounded by water in a memorial garden opposite an eternal flame.
I visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and it was so thought provoking and hard to fathom that these events of apartheid occurred in America at all. There were scenes with exact replicas of the events that had taken place such as the lunch counter at Woolworth in Greenboro, North Carolina where four students refused to leave their stools having been refused service in 1960 because of the colour of their skin. There was also the bus from Montgomery, Alabama with models of passengers both black and white as it was reported. The stunning thing was that all the depictions of both black and white passengers are colourless.
If you find yourself in Memphis I encourage you to visit this fantastic exhibit and it’s location. It is located just away from Downtown. Here is the link to the Museum
The Lorraine Motel is still there but as part of the museum and wreath adorns the balcony that Martin Luther King Jnr was shot on. His motel room as been preserved and the walls cut away and replaced with glass so you can look into it. The memory is beautifully preserved.
When Rosa Parks passed in 2005 her coffin lay in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in honour of her battle for equality and civil rights. This is not afforded to many civilians and she was the first Black American Woman to do so.
If you get to tour the Capitol Building in Washington D.C one day, Rosa Parks plays a part here too. In the Capitols Statutory Hall amongst the statues of Presidents and State Politicians, stands a statue of Rosa Parks. It was decreed by Congress and unveiled in 2013. Styled from the photograph of her arrest in Montgomery it is the only statue of a Black American in the hall and is protected by Congress unlike the other statues.
In Atlanta, only a short way from the Coca Cola Exhibit, Aquarium and CNN area, by the Olympic Park is the only city National Park in America. Occupying a few blocks that encapsulates the history of Martin Luther King Jnr.
See exhibits in original buildings and the church where he preached. His resting place is an area of peace and reflection and it here that the eternal flame burns bright.
I remember a visit from the representative of the State of Alabama to work and she was trying to promote Birmingham and Montgomery but from a music experience prospective. It was a tall order because as soon as Birmingham was mentioned it was Civil Rights that became the topic of conversation. She was saying that they were trying to get away from the guilt felt by many visitors to the history of the Civil Rights movement and the legacy of the clashes back in the 1950s and 1960s.
When I worked for a previous Tour Operator they had a special Martin Luther King Anniversary tour that included Atlanta, Birmingham and Montgomery and called it ‘In the Footsteps of Martin Luther King Jnr. It was marketed to church groups amongst other avenues. It just didn’t resonate and was cancelled due to lack of sales.
Actually if we didn’t remember these events then was all the effort for nothing. I think acceptance of people’s differences has changed for the positive and who really would have thought that during Martin Luther King’s life there would have been a black President of America.
On my recent visit to the Deep South I drove into Birmingham Alabama to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. It was early evening on a Saturday and it was pretty much deserted. Being on my own I drove around a couple of blocks and decided that it wasn’t a good time to visit. Another time maybe.
Randomly! I share my birthday (a few years later on) with Martin Luther King Jnr