We took the kids to Memphis this week. I’d like to pat ourselves on the back for doing a bang-up job of priming them for why Memphis is such a significant place in shaping this country’s history. In particular, we took the kids to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. As historical showcases go, the museum is just phenomenal. Interactive media, gorgeous photos, and very memorable displays that take one through the history from slavery to the civil rights movement, even ending with a segment on human trafficking.
The tricky thing is that we waited until the 3p entry because Tennesseans need only present their state-issued license to get in free on Mondays! The kids were a little over-hyped by that point. We didn’t want to be those parents harping the whole time; we have realistic expectations of how a 6 year-old and a 4 year-old behave in a museum about topics that are way over their heads. Example: they got on the bus with a replica of Rosa Parks and the bus driver chastising her and they were spooked. Dude. Why isn’t she moving? Oh. It’s a statue. And also, it’s Rosa Parks. Complexity.
The part of the museum that takes visitors through a reconstructed room #306 is just very special. You peer into the last place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rested his head before he walked out with his brother and friends and was shot on the balcony by James Early Ray. You see the books that were tucked into King’s suitcase. The passage is cloaked in blue and the music playing is beautiful, funereal and the whole mood is reverent.
As we approached the window to peer in on room #306, my little man said loudly, “Shhh. We’re about to meet Elvis.”