America’s story hits home in Memphis, where the National Civil Rights Museum bears witness for all

“This is the story of a people…. It is an American story,” read the sign by the entrance to the National Civil Rights Museum. It’s a tale “of hopes and dreams, of challenge and change.” And the story, the sign concludes, “continues today — with you.” So I already had a lump in my throat as I entered this museum of the American civil rights movement on the site of one of its defining events, the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.

It feels right to tell this story in Memphis, a city that’s always been a crossroads: a key port on the Mississippi River and a hub for shipping, music, food, races and the history that binds them. Although Memphis is different from other crossroads, lacking, for example, the nonstop energy of New York, the dreamers of L.A. or the enveloping charm of New Orleans, the more time I’ve spent in Memphis and relaxed into its pace, music and restaurants, the more it has grown on me.

 

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times.

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