We remember you, Martin Luther King Jr.

Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

- Martin Luther King Jr.
April 3, 1968, Memphis, Tenn.
One day before his assasination.

One of the best things my mother ever did for my sister and I was taking us to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn. when I was eight. We lived in Millington, right outside of Memphis, when the Museum opened in September 1991.

Using the Lorraine Motel, the site of King's assasination, a museum was constructed to show the horrors that blacks in this country faced at the hands of whites. The museum exhibits took this 8-year-old back in time to an awful era of slavery, followed by lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and less than 60 years ago, stupid segregation laws that forced blacks (racists scumbags preferred the term "colored") to drink from a different water fountain.

It's hard to believe those laws were in existence just a handful of decades ago.

To me, and a lot of kids my age, it all seemed foreign, like it happened on a distant planet. Giving people less rights because they had a different color of skin? How stupid! While I had seen terrible news stories before (I can remember being five and seeing a news story about a guy in San Francisco that killed his girlfriend), but the museum was my big first eye-opener at how cruel people in this world can be. While in college at Arkansas State University a few years ago, I took a few friends to the museum, and it was another sobering reminder of the cruel life many people were forced to endure.

By second grade, I had heard a little bit about Rosa Parks. At the National Civil Rights Museum, I saw a replica of the bus that she made history on. My mom was as dumbfounded as I was.

"Isn't that dumb?" my mom asked my sister and I. "The arrested her because she wouldn't get out of her seat."

Dumb can't even begin to describe it.

Perhaps the most sobering thing the museum has to offer is a wreath in the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. On a day like Monday that honors his memory, I can't help but remember the first time I saw that wreath. Humbled can't even begin to describe it.

But despite all the terrible things depicted in this museum, you leave it with a sense of optimism. There are horrors, but there are memories of brave men and women. People like Rosa Parks. Like Harriet Tubman, the former slave who helped other slaves escape the south through the Underground Railroad. Like Oscar DePriest, the first black to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 20th century.

The museum honors the four college students from Greensboro, N.C. who staged a sit-in at Woolworth's restaurant, which inspired hundreds of students to do the same non-violent protest across the country (a statue of the four is featured prominently in the museum). And the museum honors King. If I had a say, I'd choose King as the greatest American that ever lived.

The museum is sad. The wreath on the balcony is a prime example of the tears you'll shed (I don't cry very often, but this museum WILL wet your eyes). But the things inside those walls fill me with a sense of optimism, knowing that things will continue to get better if we all make an effort to keep change alive.

I urge everyone to visit the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis. Martin Luther King Jr. may be gone, but the building is just one place where his legacy thrives. Take one walk through those halls, and you'll leave a changed person. That's change King would be proud of.


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    About This Blog

    A blog for the masses, if by masses you mean myself and family members who probably read this out of pity.

    I'm dustin Faber, the 16-bit Catholic. This blog is an amusing, sometimes thought-provoking look at my life and the world around me. Poetry, cooking recipes, gaming, faith, things that make me go awww, things that make me go grrr, and my obsession with a good glass of root beer can be found here.

    If you're looking for gaming-centered posts, check out catholicvideogamers.blogspot.com. If you seek the blog I keep with my fiance, check out thecatholiclovebirds.blogspot.com

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