Room 306 in the Lorraine Motel was occupied by Martin Luther King and his associate Ralph Abernathy on the day of the shooting. They were getting ready to go to dinner together at the invitation of some friends and fellow workers. The two cars that were to take them there were parked in the lot just below their room. Dr King stepped out of the terrace outside of their room and was shot by a high powered rifle fired from the bathroom window of a boarding house at some distance from across the street. It is believed that James Earl Ray was the shooter. You can see 3 windows in the upper floor of the brick building opposite. The smaller of the three is the bathroom,
Dr King was killed almost instantly and died where fell on the terrace on the left. On the right is the bathroom from which the fatal shot was fired. Both buildings have been converted into museums. The former Lorraine into a history of the civil rights movement, and the boarding house into research into the various conspiracy theories of who was the shooter, if there were others involved, and who assisted in the assassination. There is also a similar review of research or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. These displays were no doubt very interesting to some but less so to Sue and I.
As a young boy I thought such things were normal. Because of segregation blacks and whites interacted very little. We each lived in separate worlds. After I graduated high school in 1959 I went to our Oklahoma State University and attended class with people of all races and rapidly recognized the injustice of segregation. I went through 4 years of college, took a commission in the Army and served in Korea for 2 years. When I first got out I took a job teaching middle school kids in Tulsa. By then the classes in Tulsa were integrated and the old separate world began to fade away, not without some friction but it was on the way out.
All that was 50 years ago and our society has made a lot of changes. mostly I think for the better. Today as I went through to museum I watched others as they encountered the exhibits. I would say that roughly half of the visitors were black and many of those were youngsters, between 12 and 35. They looked at some of the exhibits almost in disbelief. Hopefully the viciousness of those days have moved from current reality to history. Lets hope that we never forget.
This turned out to be a great museum and very interesting. If you are in Memphis give this a visit. It is a lot more interesting than Gracekand.