What you can expect at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis Tennessee

Did you know that there is a difference between human rights and civil rights? You’ll be able to learn all these and more at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. During our trip to Memphis, we were told by some locals that the National Civil Rights Museum is a really great attraction. We’ve heard about the civil rights movement and what Dr Martin Luther King Jr has done to progress the civil rights movement. But at the National Civil Rights Museum, you’ll learn all these and more. Thanks to the great folks at Memphis Travel, we were given an opportunity to learn and educate ourselves more about what these rights really mean…

2bearbear @ National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) Memphis
2bearbear @ National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) Memphis

Opening Hours and Admission Fees of the National Civil Rights Museum Memphis

We almost made a boo boo by planning to visit on Tuesday. As you can see from the opening hours, the NCRM is closed on Tuesdays! Do take note of this while planning your trip in Memphis.

Opening Hours of National Civil Rights Museum

Monday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Admission Fees of National Civil Rights Museum

Adult $15.00
Seniors & Students w/ID $14.00
Children 4–17 years $12.00
3 and under Free
Members Free

About the National Civil Rights Museum Memphis Tennessee

The visit started with a photography exhibition. Today, there are more slaves in the world than ever before. Many are put to work in mines, construction and prostitution. The photo exhibit raises awareness about some of the atrocities that people are put through in places like Ghana, Nepal and India. This is a special exhibit and may not be available during your visit. But it was great to learn about the difference between human rights (access to basic necessities such as food, water, shelter) and civil rights (access to public rights such as voting).

1st Exhibition Hall at National Civil Rights Museum Memphis
1st Exhibition Hall at National Civil Rights Museum Memphis

At the first exhibition hall, which is a prelude to the movie on the civil rights movement in USA, we learnt about how slavery in USA started.

The Trecherous Journey from Africa to USA
The Trecherous Journey from Africa to USA
Cost of a slave
Cost of a slave
Creating Wealth Through Slavery
Creating Wealth Through Slavery

Even in Africa, during the age of kingdoms, slavery had already been in practice. When a kingdom won a war and took the captives as slaves, some of these slaves were taken by Europeans to USA. These journeys were often long and slaves onboard had to deal with inhumane conditions and diseases. With the invention of the cotton gin, a machine that reduced time and manpower in separating cotton from seeds, many thought that the number of slaves would decrease. In fact, the opposite occurred as cotton became so profitable, more slaves were needed to work at the cotton fields. Wealth was thus created through slavery

An actual advertisement for slaves
An actual advertisement for slaves

You probably knew that the American Civil War started due to the differences between the northern and southern states. After Abraham Lincoln won the election in 1860, he pledged to end slavery which some states in the south did not want due to the profits that they were making through slavery. As a result, these states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America. As we all know, Union won the war and slavery was abolished…or was it?

Jim Crow Law in USA
Jim Crow Law in USA
Eugene "Bull" Connor and Jim Crow Laws
Eugene “Bull” Connor and Jim Crow Laws

Even after the war, Jim Crow laws came into effect across various states in the form of segregation against African American. Even though African Americans had already won the right to vote, laws such as literacy tests and grandfather laws, prevented many from voting. For instance, if a African American had a grandfather who was previously a slave, he was not allowed to vote. What?!

Rosa Parks and Segregated Bus
Rosa Parks and Segregated Bus
Inside the segregated bus
Inside the segregated bus

In December 1955, Rosa Parks was asked to move from her seat in order that a white man could have a seat. She refused. In those days, buses were segregated and black people were required to sit at the back of the bus. If there were not enough seats, they would be asked to give up their seats. This time, Rosa Parks’ defiance started a sustained civil rights movement, that brought Dr Martin Luther King Jr to the main stage.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr held in Birmingham Jail
Dr Martin Luther King Jr held in Birmingham Jail
Civil Rights March of 1963 - I have a dream speech in Washington
Civil Rights March of 1963 – I have a dream speech in Washington

His actions culminated in the “I have a dream” speech in 1963 in Washington DC where thousands flooded National Mall in support of the movement. At the National Civil Rights Museum, you’ll be able to see the speech and really feel the power and impact of his words.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr's Room at Lorraine Motel Memphis
Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s Room at Lorraine Motel Memphis
Exact spot where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated
Exact spot where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated
2bearbear @ Lorraine Motel Memphis
2bearbear @ Lorraine Motel Memphis
Bathroom of apartment where assassin took the shot
Bathroom of apartment where assassin took the shot
Another view from apartment across the street where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was shot
Another view from apartment across the street where Dr Martin Luther King Jr was shot

Unfortunately, he was assassinated in 1968 while staying at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Today, the room at Lorraine Motel is part of the National Civil Rights Museum and continues to tell of the deeds of what Dr Martin Luther King Jr had done to progress the civil rights movement in USA.

Standing on the shoulders of giants President Obama
Standing on the shoulders of giants President Obama

Even President Obama acknowledged those who came before him and when he became President of the United States in 2008, he became the first African American to do so, citing how he was standing on the “shoulders of giants” who came before.

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There were many other exhibits at the National Civil Rights Museum and even though we spent more than 2 hours there, we were still not able to cover all the exhibits. Informative, educational and inspiring, the National Civil Rights Museum is definitely a “must-visit” attraction when you visit Memphis Tennessee!

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