Monday, June 07, 2004

Notes from Memphis, Tennessee 

I was in Memphis over the weekend, and have a few thoughts:
1. Attempting to avoid the Tishomingo Blues, we went to the Grand Casino in Tunica, and I have to say it was much, much nicer than I expected. Much closer to Vegas than Gary, Indiana. Still didn't win any money, though.

2. Memphis has this bar names "Raiford's" that sells beer by the 40oz. The atmosphere was, hmm, what you'd expect at such a place, I guess. It was interesting.

3. The National Civil Rights Museum, attached to and part of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, is a place everyone should go to. I felt that it did a wonderful job and showcasing the movement, and in doing so it left me to contemplate the players and motivations involved. The initial impression one might get is to realize how King, James Meredith, the Freedom Riders, etc., really demonstrate the very best that American history and the American experience have to offer. However, you also get a sense of how bad the worst that America has to offer can be. Lester Maddox, Bull Connor, Strom Thurmond, etc. (and not everyone was Southerners, it should be noted), really represent the very worst of American society. After Brown, and certainly by the Senate debated surrounding the 1964 Act, it was clear to everyone what side history would end up on. Nevertheless, the conservative Southern Senators, Southern governors, and others (including many Northerners), simply didn't care to be on the wrong side of morality and history and remained ardent, hate-filled segregationists. And that's really what I took away from the museum. Not a sense of optimism in what the leaders of the Civil Rights movement accomplished, but a sense of pessimism in what those who opposed progress felt and though and did during that time.

In any event, the good guys did win, so I really should be happier.
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