Monday, January 16, 2017

When History Changes You

I wasn't great at History in school.  Matter of fact, it was probably one of my worst subjects.  I was never interested in it and if I'm not interested in something, it's just not going to stick.  I am 99% sure that my History teacher junior year passed me simply because she liked me because when my friend (who was equally as bad at the class as I was) and I went to get our exam scores, she said "you passed."  I asked "what were our scores?"  She barked "you passed, accept it and walk away" and gave a slight smile.

When we would get Martin Luther King Day off school, I was grateful for the extra day.  I didn't think much past that because in that time, I was like most kids- self involved and glad to be able to sleep in.  I knew there were breakfasts and parades and events honoring Dr. King but that was about it.  It has been in my lifetime that Black History Month became a nationally recognized thing but I don't remember it being prominent until I was a teenager and again, being ignorant and white, I assumed that black history wasn't my history so it didn't pertain to me.  How wrong was I?

Within the past 5 years, we made two trips to Memphis.  On the second one, I said I wanted to see the National Civil Rights Museum because frankly, I was embarrassed I knew so little about MLK and the civil rights movement.  It is set up at the Lorraine Motel where he was killed.

It is chilling to be in the same place that such an event in history has taken place with it looking just the same.  What makes it more surreal is touring the museum after you've seen the documentary they show you at the beginning of your visit called The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306. (affiliate link)   That documentary had me bawling like a friggin' baby within about 10 minutes.  It provides insight and a retelling of the events by a man who was one of King's friends and there that day that will forever change you.

The black glass in the middle is actually where you can stand inside the museum to see the building where the shot came from (and you can tour that building as well.)  The inside of the room is set up the way it was when Dr. King and his friends were there that fateful day.  I again stood there crying like a baby because after having watched that documentary, I could see his feet from the angle inside that a picture had been taken.  I own the DVD and we watch it every MLK Day to remind ourselves that all history is our history no matter what your color and though things are better in some regards, we have a ridiculously long way to go.

I was able to track down the documentary online and if you have 30 minutes tonight, I beg of you whether you like history or not, please give it a watch.

It's true reality TV that will actually change you for the better and not rot brain cells from listening to millennial vocal fry.  It will give you an appreciation for the holiday and I promise you will never be the same.

Happy Martin Luther King Day all.

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  1. I grew up in Dallas, and I remember having a similar feeling the first time I toured Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum and walked on the grassy knoll. Just realizing that I was walking in the exact same place where something so violent and historically significant occurred was jarring. I can only imagine what touring the Lorraine Hotel and the National Civil Rights Museum must be like. Thank you so much for sharing the link to the documentary - I'll check it out tonight.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story and the link. I will definitely watch it today.

  3. I watched it this morning when Deb posted the link- at work- which was probably a mistake! I figured if the kids came in to see me I'd just tell them why. What saddens me is how little has really changed for so many people.

  4. It really was a life changing visit and I am glad we went. I urge everyone to check it out if they can but if not, that video is perfect.

  5. Several years ago I went to Memphis and I agree that the National Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Motel are a powerful place to visit.


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