Location: 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis TN 38103
Assassination of a Civil Rights Icon
The Lorraine Motel (originally the Windsor Hotel, later the Marquette Hotel) has a rich history and memories of grand events and famous clientele during their travels. It was a place that catered to the Black culture where they could gather and meet in the midst of the then-segregated city of Memphis. It was the place to stay for the who’s who in sports, and entertainment especially.
To read more about the hotel, click here: Lorraine Motel
As many times Martin Luther King Jr visited and stayed here, no one could fathom that this very once happy location would forever be cemented as part of tragic history. The civil rights icon would be assassinated on April 4, 1968, just outside on the balcony of his room, 306.
The Lorraine Motel could not sustain itself after the tragedy and ultimately closed in 1988. In 1991 the Lorraine Motel is now the multi-building complex of the National Civil Rights Museum. The boardinghouse across the street was bought and renovated to be part of the complex because James Earl Ray rented a room from which he fired that fatal shot.
As you walk to it, you will see a wreath on the balcony, which marks where Dr. King stood at the time of his assassination. There are vintage cars parked in the front as it would have been during the 1960s. To see his room, you’d have to enter the main museum extrance which takes you through a timeline of historic events. Dr. King’s room 306 & the adjacent room 307 are protected by glass so you cannot touch anything.
The atmosphere is very somber as you step back in time viewing where Dr King last stayed. Everything is pretty much untouched and preserved, the bed was made, food tray on the table, a milk carton, even the last cigarettes that King still in the ashtray. Although the hotel was still in use for a few years afterward, rooms 306 & 307 were never rented after April 4th. It’s very surreal to see and realize the life lost senselessly and the feeling of hopelessness the Black community had to have felt once the news was heard. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was so much to so many during and beyond the civil rights movement. In an instance….he was gone 😥
To read in detail about Dr King’s death, click here: Death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.