By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
MEMPHIS — My last day in Memphis actually began the night before.
With no game on Friday, that left the evening to explore some of the sights on Beale Street. More than 90 percent of the things I saw are not for print. Let’s just say the street lives up to its reputation. From the live music to the street shows to the hundreds of spectators walking the street, it was similar to Mardi Gras.
What may have been the best part of the entire trip took place Saturday morning. I had intentionally waited until my last day to go and visit the National Civil Rights Museum and it was even more powerful than I had expected.
“Of hopes and dreams, of challenge and change. It is an American story. This story and struggle that started many centuries ago, continues today — with you,” states the museum’s website.
For a cost of $15 I was able to take a trip back in time and watch how our nation has dealt with the question of race. The museum offers 260 artifacts, more than 40 new films, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts that guide visitors through five centuries of history — from the beginning of the resistance during slavery, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and the seminal events of the late 20th century that inspired people around the world to stand up for equality.
With the museum being located on the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, it was an emotional time for many of the people on hand. The tour now also includes a newly built Legacy Building that was built inside the boarding house James Earl Ray stayed in when he killed King.
The irony of my time at the museum is the entire saga involving L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling hit social media at the exact same time. My cell phone and Twitter account were blowing up with messages about a possibly racist NBA owner at the same time I was learning about people who tried to eliminate that that type of thinking from our nation. Disturbing to say the least.
After the museum I checked out Central BBQ, which is located across the street from the Civil Rights Museum. Many told me it was the best rib joint in town. I found nothing to disprove what I was told.
On my way to the arena, I saw a billow of smoke and ended up watching a fire for an hour.
With time to spare, I went back to Beale Street and took in the atmosphere one last time. In the light of day of a Saturday afternoon, it was still wild and entertaining. The music was blaring from the juke joints and drinks were flowing.
But you also saw the poverty that inhabits the city and what people will do for money. Watching a woman in her 50s twirl a hand made wooden baton hoping people would toss her spare change as they laughed at her was a painful sight.
Memphis is an amazing city. It has its good, bad and humorous characteristics. But more than anything else, always entertaining.
Follow me @eyeamtruth
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