See a message from Dean of Students Carolyn Livingston about the Northfield to Selma trip.

Friday, March 24: Day Nine

Saturday, March 25, 2017

by Genesis Rojas

6:30am we left Birmingham and traveled to Memphis, Tennessee. Today we were headed to visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel and The Stax Museum of American Soul— a bittersweet closing to our trip.

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel solidified what we learned in our previous visitations on the history of oppression, pain, perseverance, and hate in American history. Civil rights and social change took hundreds of people organizing meetings, strategizing, training etc. The Bus Boycott is one of the better-known protests and I clearly remember learning about it in school. However, the museum brought to my attention that the Women’s Political Council had initiated the one-day boycott. This was a well-organized network of more than 300 black women. This one-day boycott’s success is what allowed for the boycott to flourish and become what it did. Black women made this a success and I failed to learn this through my American public school education. This trip has taught me of other movements made possible because of the involvement and work that black women did. Also, this trip has challenged me to continue to look further into the work accomplished by black women.

Throughout our journey, almost every Museum has covered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s accomplishments. Many know his prominence in the Civil Rights movement; he is known around the world and beloved. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel. The museum refreshed my memory on why he was there and took us through the process of identifying the shooter. The museum made the information accessible and engaging. It brings the movement to life for those present, even as the memorial of King’s death and the Black Freedom struggle lingers. 

The Stax Museum of American Soul displays videos, interactive exhibits, a dance floor and thousands of artifacts that tell the story of American soul music. It celebrates the music of Isaac Hayes, Ike, Tina Turner, Booker T and the MG’s, Ray Charles and many others. It takes us from the history in the Church with soul music being built from gospel and blues that express the “human heart of love, pain, and longing”.  These musical forms find commonality through releasing participants from their “immediate confines, offering refuge for the spirit”. Blues came from hardship, like spirituals, they offered release and relief. Beforehand I knew about these musical forms on an individual basis, but didn’t know in depth their intersection.

The Stax Museum brings to our attention how Blues and Soul music has influenced all other music to demand the person to get into the song— feeling and mind. Ray was one of my favorite films growing up, so I enjoyed reading more on Ray Charles in the Museum and how his music helped develop the foundation for soul. This last brisk visitation was a pleasing ending to our Civil Rights excursion.

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