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Old 04-09-2006, 12:02 AM   #1
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The National Civil Rights Museum In Memphis

Who has been there? I went there this past week and it was an amazing experience for me. To stand almost in the very spot where Dr. King stood when he was murdered (obviously you can't go out on the balcony but you can stand inside and see the spot about three feet away, the blood stained cement was removed). It was very emotional to see that and to stand there.

Also so emotional for me was to see an actual KKK outfit, it made me ill and so extremely uncomfortable. I will never forget seeing that. So much there made me ill- to see what some white people did to some African Americans, so evil and incomprehensible.

It is worth going to Memphis just to visit the Civil Rights Museum(http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/) It is overwhelming, the amount of information they have displayed. And just heart wrenching and really makes you think about where we have been and where we are going.

What are some great historic/cultural museums you have been to and some emotional experiences you have had?
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Old 04-09-2006, 12:25 AM   #2
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I was at the Civil Rights Museum in 2003. "Harrowing" is the word I use to describe it to people. The experience just has to be different for whites than it is for blacks. After I came out of there, a young black woman asked me how it was. All I could say was that there was a lot of shouting.

The tough part for me was the sequence that led to Memphis. It started In Oklahoma City, where I visited the Murrah Building Memorial. The Memorial itself is lovely and moving, but I made the terrible mistake of going to the museum inside the adjacent building. It was nothing but non-stop death, screaming, explosions, and stories from survivors about how their co-workers died before their eyes. Then on to Little Rock, and Central High, with racial epithets on tape and photographs of angry white faces contorted in hate. Then on to Memphis, which had been crippled by a windstorm a week before I arrived. Very few people had gotten their electricity back even when I got there. I had gone to Memphis specifically to see the Civil Rights Museum. Well, I saw it alright. I do recommend it to everyone, but the experience isn't for the faint-hearted. Knowing what had gone on during that period helped; I can't imagine going there without some background to prepare you for what you'll see, hear, and feel.

I tell you, I was so glad to get to Nashville and go to the Country Music Hall of Fame. No shouting, no death, no shame; just Red Foley, Bob Wills, and Roy Acuff.
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Old 04-09-2006, 12:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by martha
The experience just has to be different for whites than it is for blacks
Without a doubt. The best way I can sum it up so late at night and thinking back on it all..I felt just pure extreme guilt there. Guilt and utter shame.

That must have been very emotional to go to Oklahoma City Martha. My experience in Memphis was sort of similar, as they had tornado watches/warnings the day after I got there and the day before I left. It is quite a city, I had never been there before. One of my goals was to see the Civil Rights Museum. I wanted to go on April 4th but that didn't work out, I went on the 5th.
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Old 04-09-2006, 12:39 AM   #4
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OKC was awful. It was fine in the park-like memorial, with the chairs and stuff. It was somber and serious, but there's a tree that lived through the explosion, and there's a reflecting pool, but the museum is an ordeal. The "gift shop" was straight from Hell. Would anyone really want a polo shirt from there?

That was a tough enough thing to go through as an American anyway. I went there because I wanted to see the memorial when the event was still recent enough to remember clearly. Well, I don't need to go again.
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Old 04-09-2006, 02:43 AM   #5
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Wow Martha, what a journey!

I've not been to Memphis, unfortunately. I also need to see the Holocaust Museum someday. My grandpa fought in WWII and was with the group that liberated a concentration camp (what was left of it at least). I was too young for him to tell me his experiences before he died, so now all I have is his letters and his disturbing photos (which I will throw in the face of any Holocaust deny-er).

That's pretty sick about them selling those polos, Martha. Reminds me of when I was in NYC at Ground Zero, only a month after Sept. 11. We'd spent a week doing relief work there, sorting all of the supplies being donated to the Red Cross. We took a quiet trip down to Ground Zero and some punks kept pestering us, saying they could sneak us right up to the pile of rubble for only $5 a person.
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Old 04-09-2006, 06:08 AM   #6
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The Civil Rights Museum must have been something else--takes you out of the abstract and suddenly you know, emotionally, that all this stuff really happened.

I climbed Masada in Israel. where Jewish rebels chose to commit mass suicide rather than submit to capture by the Romans. Beforehand, I knew nothing about it, but that was the strongest image I took back home.

Several months--I think in March 2002, I went to New York to Ground Zero. We were there the day when they were finding the bodies of several firemen (I remember reading it was 13 in the next day's paper) and we stood as they drove the bodies out separately, the police and others on duty saluting in tribute as each car drove by. I remember driving in and not seeing the Twin Towers and thinking now it just looked like any other skyline (and I hated it when the towers were originally built. I thought then they ruined the skyline, then I couldn't imagine it without them.
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Old 04-09-2006, 08:03 AM   #7
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I think this has to qualify.


http://forum.interference.com/t100221.html


Experience: Bono Receives the Freedom Award in Memphis*


2004.10


On Monday, Oct. 18, Bono and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) were honored by the National Civil Rights Museum with its annual Freedom Award. Past recipients include Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton. This was not the first time that Lewis and Bono had met, both were present when Bono was honored by The King Center in January as the international recipient of the Salute to Greatness award.

The first event of Bono's day in Memphis was a free public forum held near the National Civil Rights Museum at the Temple of Deliverance, a name that impressed Bono. The program opened with a performance by Watoto D'Afrika, a local youth African-inspired singing and dancing troupe. After the opening prayer, the forum began with a recognition ceremony of local students who won the "Keeper of the Dream" poster art competition and students that were recognized for their personal courage and community service. Next, Lewis was recognized with a brief video introduction of his life and his contributions to the civil rights movement.

Lewis spoke about his life growing up in rural Alabama in segregation during the 1940s and 1950s. He talked about being inspired by Rosa Parks' and Martin Luther King Jr.'s examples of nonviolent protest against segregation. Lewis joined the civil rights movement as a student activist in the early 1960s, participating in Freedom Rides. He described how he was nearly beaten to death several times by police. He talked about how he thought that he was looking death in its face on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965 when a group of nonviolent protesters were brutally attacked by local police authorities in order to stop them from marching. Known as Bloody Sunday, that vicious attack in part lead to the signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson a few months later.

On a lighter note, Lewis talked about how, as a boy, he raised chickens and would gather them in the family barn and preached to them. Lewis joked that he felt that those chickens listened to him more than his fellow congressmen in DC. At least, he continued, they were more productive than congressmen because they lay eggs.

After a beautiful performance by the Stax Music Academy, it was Bono's turn at the podium. A short video highlighted Bono's humanitarian efforts beginning with his lifelong respect and love for King and how Bono clung to the philosophy of nonviolence during his formative teenage years after Ireland's Bloody Sunday, Jan. 29 1972. This coincidence of these two men—one black, one white, one older, one younger, united by their adherence to the nonviolent philosophy of King and united by these two different Bloody Sunday events—definitely struck the audience in the Temple of Deliverance.

After the video, Bono approached the podium. Dressed in a red velvet striped jacket, pink shirt, jeans and, in his words, rose-colored glasses, Bono started his talk by praising Lewis and stating that he is one of the congressman's "chickens" to the applause of the audience. Bono thanked the pastor of the Temple of Deliverance for allowing him to take over the podium and stated how much he enjoyed being in a preacher's podium.

He asked if anyone had seen the Jay-Z concert in Memphis the night before and thanked the hip-hop community for its help in the AIDS struggle. Bono commented on the musical contributions of Memphis,- of how the blues (the father) had married gospel (the mother) and created rock 'n' roll (the child). He talked about his admiration of the three Kings of Memphis—Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Martin Luther King Jr. And then Bono turned a bit more serious and said that he wanted to take us on a journey to Africa and asked if we wanted to come along. The audience answered yes.

Bono talked about the AIDS pandemic in Africa and of how the world would not allow this to happen anywhere else. He questioned why the greatest health emergency in history is not covered on the evening news. Bono spoke of his and wife Ali's trip to an Ethiopian refugee camp shortly after Live Aid and how it changed his life. Then, to the delight of the audience, Bono introduced Ali and daughters Jordan and Eve who were present in the audience.

The forum closed with a gospel rendition of "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by the young women of the Stax Music Academy, with Bono being the first one to rise to his feet in a standing ovation for them.

A special highlight of the day came about two hours later when Lewis, Bono and family visited the National Civil Rights Museum and saw the room that King stayed in the night before his assassination. Then, in an honor reserved for the most special of guests, the entourage got to stand on the balcony at the exact spot where King was shot. Bono would later call it "consecrated ground."



The evening's activities for the National Civil Rights Museum's Freedom Awards commenced with a dinner held in honor of Bono and Lewis at the Cook Convention Center downtown Memphis. Neither honoree addressed the audience during the dinner. After the dinner, everyone moved to the Cannon Center next door for the event that everyone had waited for all day, the awards ceremony.

There was an introductory speech by Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), the Senate Majority Whip and longtime AIDS advocate with Bono, to welcome everyone to the evening's activities. There was a musical selection from the National Civil Rights Museum's choir. And then, after the same short video introduction played again that had been shown earlier in the day, Lewis was asked to come up and receive his award.

Lewis talked about similar themes as he had discussed earlier in the day—segregation, the Civil Rights Movement and nonviolence—but this time with more stridency, maybe caught up in the magic of the moment. He praised Bono's efforts to highlight the AIDS pandemic in Africa and called him "a brother," to which Bono quickly jumped to his feet and gave a closed-fisted salute to the applause of the audience. Lewis ended on a rousing note when he encouraged us all not to give up the struggle for freedom and justice. He stated that although we may have all come over on different ships, we're all in the same boat. Lewis left the stage to a standing ovation.

Then, it was Bono's turn. The same short video was shown again from the morning highlighting Bono's humanitarian efforts. Bono took the stage this time wearing what appeared to be a maroon jacket, purple shirt with a grey tie and slacks. It was the first time that I had ever seen Bono in a tie—very impressive. He started off praising Lewis as he had done earlier in the day and then cracked a joke about how following a man like Lewis was like the Monkees following the Beatles. A little while later, to stress his point, Bono broke into "I'm a Believer" to the delight of the audience.

Bono's voice almost broke at one point while describing the AIDS pandemic in Africa, this time placing special emphasis on the 11 million children already orphaned by AIDS. Maybe this emphasis on AIDS orphans came from the fact that Bono's family had accompanied him on this trip so children were in the forefront of his mind. He spoke as he had at The King Center in a traditional call and response pattern when he repeated several times that the AIDS crisis in Africa was not a cause, to the audience's response of "It's an emergency," to which Bono simply stated "Amen." In his speech, Bono described himself as "a rock star with an emergency."

Bono talked about one of King's favorite Bible passages about Jeremiah and how Jeremiah witnessed so much injustice in the world. Bono talked about "the Balm in Gilead" that would heal the sin-sick soul. He talked of how there is a woman dying slowly from AIDS right now in some remote part of Africa, forgotten by world, wondering who will help her, who will be her "balm in Gilead". Bono stressed that we are the balm to bring healing to Gilead (Africa). Bono challenged us once more with his "journey of equality" for Africa and brought us another step closer up to King's mountaintop.

Bono left the stage to rousing applause and a prolonged standing ovation. His magnificent day in Memphis was almost over.

Through the generosity of a friend, I was able to attend the V.I.P. reception held for the honorees after the ceremony. Amid the throngs of evening-dressed men and women thrusting CDs, U2 pictures and evening programs in front of Bono's face to sign, I managed to approach Bono cautiously during the reception.

I did not want to take anything away from Bono, I did not want an autograph or a picture from him. I had simply come to present him with small pin that I had purchased at a global AIDS conference the year before, the proceeds of which would go to support a community of AIDS women and children in Zambia. The pin said "Hope Is Vital—HIV," a wordplay that I knew that Bono would appreciate.

Standing right in front of him for a moment, I took the plunge and simply said "Bono, this is for you. HIV—Hope Is Vital." He took the pin, looked at it and then, while smiling at me said, "Absolutely. Thank you," gently squeezing my hand before the next CD was thrust in his face to sign.

Ali was at the evening events with Bono and I got the chance to meet and talk with her. She was warm, gracious, affable and very friendly to everyone. I thanked her for all that she does to help children around the world and thanked her for being such a great mother and wonderful friend/spouse to Bono. It was a truly magical ending to a truly magnificent day with Bono in Memphis.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you for remembering the NCRM - we should never forget the important part in History that that "consecrated ground" has played in the "journey of equality".

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Old 04-09-2006, 03:59 PM   #8
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I'd love to go to the museum. For me, a native of Birmingham, it'd be a really emotional experience, considering what my own city's been through--Bull Connor, the Ku Klux Klan, the many church bombings (not just one), hell, it took Diane McWhorter 20 years to do the research for her book on the history of the city's civil rights struggles. I just have to figure out when I'll have a chance to visit Memphis and check it out.
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Old 04-09-2006, 07:36 PM   #9
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verte, someday you should go and visit the Museum.

Just standing in front of it and remembering that this was the last place on earth where Dr. King stood is a feeling unlike no other.

Regardless of race, the NCRM is a national treasure to be supported by everyone.
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Old 04-09-2006, 08:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jamila
verte, someday you should go and visit the Museum.

Just standing in front of it and remembering that this was the last place on earth where Dr. King stood is a feeling unlike no other.

Regardless of race, the NCRM is a national treasure to be supported by everyone.
Definitely, when I'm not in Turkey.
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Old 04-09-2006, 08:10 PM   #11
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That's right, my dear - when are you going to Turkey?

This is a trip you have been planning in your heart for awhile now.

I hope it succeeds for you.
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