All posts tagged: Martin Luther King Jr.

History is Not What Happened Two Hundred Years Ago; It is a Story About What Happened Two Hundred Years Ago*

Last week, a colleague shared an article that pushed me to think about how different generations view the world. I come at this question from various perspectives—as a baby boomer responsible for staff from multiple generational groups, a father of two millennials, a son of parents of the “greatest generation,” and so on.  You get the point. Since I’m in the history business, my thinking focused on the major episodes of the past that have influenced generations I’ve known.  Both my parents grew up in the Depression and were greatly affected by the New Deal, Pearl Harbor and WWII.  My generation grew up during the expanding economic cycles of the 1950s and 60s with the rise of the middle class, but also experienced the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, not to mention Vietnam.  Two of my siblings grew up in the Reagan era, with its attacks on the New Deal and government.  For my children, their early and teenage years were shaped in part …

Nothing Can be Changed Until it is Faced

Last week, President Obama named the A.G. Gaston Motel (a National Trust National Treasure), the 16th Street Baptist Church (site of a bomb attack in 1963 that killed four young girls), and other places near them as part of the new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.  Made on the eve of celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the president’s designation was a good reminder of the importance of why we protect places that tell difficult stories from our past. A few weeks ago I finished reading a powerful book that harkened back to the work and writings of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a work that demands a response from the reader and is not easily dismissed. In the book’s foreword, Cornel West alludes to the link between Alexander’s work and Dr. King’s core beliefs.  King called for us to be “lovestruck with each other, not colorblind toward each other. To be lovestruck is to care, to have …

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Edge of the American West is one of those nice finds on the Internet.  As we head into the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, I found their post on Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. (Again) to be worth sharing. In the post, the writer Ari focuses on a King speech entitled The Other America that Dr. King gave weeks before his death.  Ari writes: By this time in his life, though, King openly expressed sympathy for those who embraced other means, for those who would not turn the other cheek: But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the …

A few more Memphis Highlights

A few quick observations after spending the last 24 hours in Memphis… Any first-time visitor to the city has to make time to see the National Civil Rights Museum.  (Photo at the beginning of the post.)  I spent an hour on a tour with the museum’s curator and the head of Memphis Heritage this morning, and I’ve seldom been as moved as when standing between the restored rooms 306 (Dr. Martin Luther King’s room) and 307, viewing the balcony at the Lorraine Motel.  One listens to excerpts from his final “Mountaintop” speech, delivered the night before, and then looks up to see the boarding house across the street where history changed.  Later in the tour, the view is reversed, as you stand next to James Earl Ray’s bathroom and see the balcony, with the historic cars parked outside beneath a large wreath.  Very powerful. Tracey gave us an insiders tour.  We talked a great deal about the decisions behind the original exhibit and the thinking now underway for future exhibits.  I was pleased to see a section added with the support …