So we're in Tennessee this week, taking a little family vacation. We're in Memphis today, visiting some familiar haunts for me and Carolyn, but places that are new to Bailey and Cody, since this is their first visit to TN.

Last night we took them to Corky's Memphis BBQ, a place where Carolyn and I have both been to many times. The food was typically great, especially the banana pudding dessert, which the kids loved. They also had a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with their cousin Emily, who just moved to Memphis and starts work this week. 

Today we visited the world famous Peabody Hotel downtown for the "Duck March" which was a lot of fun, an event the kids really enjoyed; so did Carolyn and me.

After the Peabody we visited the National Civil Rights Museum, also in downtown Memphis. You just can't imagine.

This was a site I've long wanted to visit. I can remember seeing images in the Chicago Tribune from the days after April 4, 1968, seeing the images from the Lorraine Motel.

This is the image burned into my brain - burned into a lot of brains, let's be honest. I can recall the black and white images of the front of this hotel in the Chicago Tribune, from years ago, when I was still just eight years old.

This is the view of Room 306. See that balcony up there? Just to the right of the door? That's where Martin Luther King spent his last few moments on earth. 

 At the museum, they've laid gray bricks that show the line of sight, that show where the shot came from, that indicate where the shooter was: in that bathroom, up the hill, with the window slightly open. The shooter was in there, slid his rifle barrel out that window, pulled the trigger and assassinated Dr. King.


 It is really pretty intense standaing there. Very moving. 

You start your tour here. This is at the entrance to the National Civil Rights Museum. Then you walk through the museum, and see the history of the civil rights in the U.S., from slavery in the 1700s, the commerce of the late 1700s through the 1800s, though the Civil War, the late 1800s and the early part of the last century, and Jim Crow laws, to the upheaval of the 1950s and 1960s in the American south, and then, after all that, when you get to modern times, you exit the museum by walking past Room 306 and that balcony.

It is a very intense, surreal place. 

If you ever find yourself in Memphis with a couple of hours to spare, you should visit this site. I am really glad I got to see it. I am particularly pleased that I got to share it with my wife and two sons. 

 John Needham

June 16, 2014

Memphis, TN