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March 2015
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Discover the Civil Rights Museum, in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King died

Discover the Civil Rights Museum, in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King died © Ludovic Bischoff

Freshly renovated after 14 months of work costing over 27 million dollars, the brand new Civil Rights Museum reopened its doors in April 2015. And it is one of a kind. Here, you can retrace the long march of black people, in the hopes of having their rights recognised. From the slave trade up until the election of Barack Obama, they have come a long way! And visitors may tread this blood and tear-stained path. And the setting brims with little ploys that make you feel, almost physically, this long journey. First, a film viewing retraces the life of the black population from their arrival from Africa until the signing of the 14th amendment that abolished slavery. Then, the screen opens up, inviting you to move forward, accompanied by the image and sound of the footsteps of those who continued to protest for their rights. This makes you fully aware that their fight for equality represented a long, steep climb, sown with various perils! The museum blends pedagogy and playful stage design, such as the reconstruction of the Montgomery bus in which, back in December 1955, an elderly black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man. A simple act of resistance, and yet a stamp of real courage, this moment launched a wide campaign to mobilise all those who desired liberty and equal rights. Ten years later, in Selma, a small town in neighbouring Alabama, a historic march towards Montgomery marked a turning point in terms of raising awareness. In both cases, Martin Luther King was present. And it was in support of a strike by black binmen that he found himself in Memphis on 4th April 1968. Shot in front of the door of his room at the Lorraine Motel, this building now houses this gripping Civil Rights Museum. This exemplary museum does not seek to teach moral lessons but explain and fully reveal the fight for equal rights between black and white people. A mausoleum for Martin Luther King, the film ‘Selma’ brings his story to life today more than ever before.

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