Memphis – Day 1

We docked in Memphis early this morning and said goodbye to the American Splendor. There was one final excursion included in our tour, a trip to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

The Lorraine Motel, of course, is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; there is a memorial plaque outside, and a wreath is always hung on the door of Room 306. He was shot on the balcony just outside the room.

The bullet came from the rooming house across the street; the small window is where the killer shot King. James Earl Ray was convicted for the murder and died in prison, but there are those (including the King family) who have other theories about the identity of the murderer.

I wasn’t surprised that we had to go through metal detectors to get into the museum. We saw a short film about the history of slavery and discrimination in North America, and then we were able to tour the collections. There was a lot of information, with many news videos from the 1960s, and recreations of scenes like Rosa Parks on the bus, the Woolworth Sit-in, and the “I AM A MAN” march of the striking Memphis sanitation workers. King made several trips to Memphis to support the sanitation workers before being killed.

There were also reproductions of significant documents related to the Civil Rights Movement, like this one urging compliance with the Birmingham Campaign’s boycott of merchants who supported segregation.

Our excursion included lunch at Central BBQ; it was quite tasty. During lunch, our guest speaker, Charles McKinney of Rhodes College here in Memphis answered questions about the Civil Rights movement, discrimination, and the current state of affairs. After lunch, they took us to the Peabody Hotel where we’ll be spending the next two nights. We checked in and looked around.

We walked back to the museum, passing MLK Reflection Park with its mountaintop statue and the old signs for the hotel along the way.

Most of the rooms in the hotel have been remodeled and turned into modern exhibit space; they recreated Room 306 to match its appearance when King went out on the balcony that last time.

When we left the museum, we saw a protest table across the street; the protestor, Jacqueline Smith, lived at the Lorraine until 1988, when the hotel was closed to be converted into the museum. She thinks that the space used by the museum would be better if it housed people like it did before the conversion.

The museum disagrees.

We returned to the Peabody to see the afternoon Duck Parade, which features the Duckmaster appointing some kids to be temporary Duckmasters to help him get the ducks out of the fountain, onto the red carpet, and into the elevator which takes them up to the Duck Palace. It was a lot of fun, but hard to photograph because of the huge crowd!

We had dinner at Kooky Canuck across the street from the hotel.

Soon after we sat down, there was a commotion as they brought a 7-pound hamburger to a guest who had accepted the Kookamonga Challenge.

To win the challenge (and get the burger for free), he had to finish it within one hour.

He failed. Our server told us that he hadn’t quite finished half the burger before giving up.

Dinner was good; we had ordered salads with fish. Diane had salmon atop her salad. I felt hungry and ordered fish and chips to go with mine. My portion wasn’t as big as the burger we saw, but half of what they brought out filled me up nicely and I stopped.

We walked down to Beale Street to enjoy the atmosphere.

We came back to the hotel and explored for a while; we even went up to the skywalk level to see the ducks.

2 thoughts on “Memphis – Day 1

  1. I never saw the Peabody in Memphis, but remember the duck parades at the one in Orlando we used for Magicon. Sadly there a no more ducks and the hotel is now a Hyatt Regency.

  2. I never stayed at the Peabody Orlando, but I did make sure to see the Duck Parade there when I went to LotusSphere and stayed at the Swan or the Dolphin nearby.

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