Monday, August 10, 2009

A Journey to Memphis and the Crossroads Part 2: The National Civil Rights Museum

Welcome to Part 2 of the extensive recap of my trip to Memphis. As I did in Part 1, I am again going to use my twitter updates as the basis for the post.

If you missed Part 1, click here.

Day 2:

at national civil wrights museum in #memphis. 4:22 PM Aug 3rd

Although I initially didn't realize the National Civil Right Museum was in Memphis, it became an absolute must that I visit. And I was very impressed. What could have been a black eye and a major scar on the city's history had been transformed into very well constructed museum.

seeing black kids at nat civil rights museum having no clue who jim crow is is both good and bad. glad they are learning it as history. 4:24 PM Aug 3rd

I was very impressed to see numerous groups of teachers and students at the National Civil Rights Museum. We have made so much progress in the last fifty years, as evident by children who have no idea who Jim Crow is. They have every right to be disgusted and appalled when they are told who "he" was.

Although it might take longer, integration is much better than forcing a homeland. #memphis 4:48 PM Aug 3rd

I'll admit, this statement is more than a little controversial. At least I meant it that way. But I look at the situation in places like Israel and I look at the US, and I am glad the African-American community pushed for integration, instead of using the tragedy of slavery to establish their own "homeland".

reconstruction in the south very similiar to efforts in iraq. #politics 4:51 PM Aug 3rd

It's funny how we lose historical perspective so quickly. There are many that argue that military forces should just be used for war fighting. But they forget that the military helped to rebuild the society in the Southern US after the Civil War. Until they were prematurely pulled out.

Ida wells - similiar to bloggers in iran, egypt, cuba, syria etc #civilrights 4:53 PM Aug 3rd

Ida Wells was an African-American journalist in the beginning of the 20th Century. She often wrote about the oppression blacks faced during the era of Jim Crow. As I am reading a book about bloggers in currently oppressive countries, I naturally made the comparison to Wells.

the bus @ the civil rights museum told me to get up and i did. as if i needed further evidence of rosa parks inner strength #civilrights 5:13 PM Aug 3rd

One of the exhibits in the Civil Rights Museum was a bus similar to the one ridden by Rosa Parks. When visitors board the museum bus, they are told to sit near a statue of Parks. Then a voice on the bus commands you to move and repeats the command several times, each time louder and louder. I got up.

sit in songs = early socially conscious hiphop #hiphop #civilrights 5:18 PM Aug 3rd

Again, I was comparing the methods of expression of the past with those of today.

bumper sticker in nat civil rights museum says jfk, rfk = commies. same statement used v obama today. 5:27 PM Aug 3rd

Of course, some things never change. I guess in America, progressive voices are always linked to communism.

sad when civil rights becomes a national security issue. in the u.s. or anywhere. 5:29 PM Aug 3rd

This was in response to exhibits that discussed the involvement of National Guard units in ensuring racial equality and equal access to educational facilities. Had the National Guard not gotten involved, the US may have seen increased regional violence.

"violence is outmoded as a solution to the problems of men" - james farmer. agreed 5:37 PM Aug 3rd

I liked this statement.

not sure if i agree w nat civil rights museum calling mob pic "a redneck mob". rednecks were striking wv coal workers. 5:43 PM Aug 3rd

I found this odd. I don't think the museum should have used the term "redneck" to describe white people in a picture unless those people are actually wearing red bandannas. Otherwise "redneck" is a derogatory slang term.

At lorainne hotel right where dr king was shot. eerie. 6:07 PM Aug 3rd

The museum is built into the Lorainne Hotel allowing visitors to look out the window of the room Dr. King stayed in. Visitors can see the window across the street where the killer made his lethal shot.

As much as my trip was about entertainment - seeing live music, exploring the origins of the blues, etc - it was also extremely educational. It is hard to believe that 50 years ago the US still had institutional racism in the guise of "separate but equal". Being raised in predominantly racially neutral regions (Long Island, NY and Central Florida) I had never seen the scars of segregation. The experience and realization that these events occured such a short time ago was definitely eye-opening.

Beyond anything else, my trip to the National Civil Rights Museum made me realize that although we have progressed greatly as a society towards a more equal America - as seen in the pictures of President Obama in the museum gift shop - there is no doubt we still have far to go.

Part 3 coming tomorrow.

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