Well, for me, it started with Memphis.
This summer, on a much-needed weeklong vacation, my fiance and I took a road trip to see Primus in Kentucky for the band’s Farewell to Kings-Rush tribute tour as North Texas was not a stop. I was born in Kentucky, but my family moved away when I was a toddler. I’ve always wanted to visit the state in general and Mammoth Cave specifically. On a lark, we grabbed some tickets and went for it.
Along the path, we also stopped at many Civil War sites like Shiloh National Cemetery and Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. Still, no stop was more impactful than the National Civil Rights Museum (450 Mulberry St, Memphis, 901-521-9699). Several years ago, Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King, purchased the Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated, and after a multimillion-dollar build-out, she transformed it into a state-of-the-art multimedia museum.
The Lorraine’s façade is still intact, but the entrance is a brick building to the left of the hotel. Upon entry, the layout guides you on a tour, tracing the beginning of slavery, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement leading up to — and following — King’s assassination. Toward the end of the tour, you are directed down a narrow hall, past signs about quiet contemplation, and then you realize that you are standing in the hallway in front of Dr. King’s hotel room. Peering through the glass wall on each side of where you stand, you can see his group’s two rooms, left just as they were that fateful day.
When in Memphis, skip Graceland. This museum is what you need to see. The content and exhibits here should be in textbooks in every state. It’s that informative.
Dr. Bernice King, the daughter of the late Dr. and Mrs. King, is continuing her parents’ legacy. She is the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (449 Auburn Av, Atlanta, 404-526-8900), which works to institutionalize and promote the philosophy of nonviolence. She and Dr. Kimberly Johnson have written the children’s book It Starts with Me! about a young girl who encourages her friends to “be love.”
“Through love, we can create the Beloved Community, a world where injustice ceases, love prevails, and everyone is a beneficiary of belonging.”
The book reminds children and adults alike that “while we all can want to make the world better, we have to own that it starts with each of us taking a stand for what is morally right and just.”
Join King and Johnson on Sat, Aug 20, for a reading of It Starts with Me! at 11:30am, followed by a book signing at noon, at Galleria Dallas (13350 Dallas Pky, 972-702-7100) on Level 3, adjacent to the Children’s Play Place.
The event is free to attend, but you’ll need to purchase the book. There will be a special kiosk on-site Fri, Aug 19, and Sat, Aug 20, with the book and other merchandise for sale. A hardcover copy is $21.99, while the paperback is $12.99, with proceeds benefiting the King Center. For more information, visit TheKingCenter.org.