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Richard | all galleries >> Galleries >> Richard's trip to the South with three Brooklyn buddies from way back when: late March-early April, 2014 > Bessie Brewer's Boarding House (foreground) - Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray from this building
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05-APR-2014

Bessie Brewer's Boarding House (foreground) - Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray from this building

The former Bessie Brewer's Boarding House is part of the "National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel" in Memphis, Tennessee.
At the time of King's assassination (April 4, 1968) the neighborhood surrounding the Lorraine Motel (where he was assassinated) was a low income, predominantly Black area. King was in Memphis to support striking Black sanitation workers who were protesting their working conditions and their lower pay relative to White workers. King stayed in room 306 at the Lorraine Motel across the street from Bessie Brewer's Boarding House. His roommate was Dr. Ralph Abernathy. King was assassinated by a single bullet while he was standing on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel. James Earl Ray was convicted of the assassination. He committed the assassination from Bessie Brewer's Rooming House where he was staying - across the street from the Lorraine Motel. In the photo above, the small bathroom window on the second floor is open a bit as it was when James Earl Ray shot King from that room. There is still some dispute if Ray was the actual gunman, or if he was the gunman, was he part of a bigger conspiracy. Immediately after the assassination, anger poured into the streets. Riots occurred in over 100 cities. Soon after the assassination Memphis city officials settled the strike of the sanitation workers on terms mostly favorable to the workers.
We had the pleasure of watching the ceremonies for the reopening of the "National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel," in Memphis Tennessee and then touring the Museum. The reopening marked the physical expansion and renovation of the Museum and the addition of many exhibits. It was a big media event.
The Museum is built around and now includes the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The Museum has among other things 260 display pieces, films, oral histories, interactive media and listening posts covering five centuries of Civil Rights history early resistance during slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, the rise of Jim Crow and important events of the 20th century.
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