10.3: Max and Grace’s excellent USA adventure: Civil rights Museum, Memphis

In a quiet area of Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum is located on the exact site where Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968.

It’s a difficult place to come to, emotionally. Like it happened yesterday, with a wreath on the balustrade of his hotel room still there.

But once inside the Museum, you are taken on an immersive journey, from stolen generations of African slaves…

…freed from slavery at the end of the Civil War, to be treated as second class citizens, without the same Constitutional protections and rights that white Americans possessed. Only on the basis of the colour of skin.

One exhibit that was really moving was the work of Doctors Kenneth and Mamie Clark, who investigated the psychological effects of segregation on African-American children. In the research, time and again, young African American children, when offered either a black or a white skinned baby to play with, would always choose the white skinned baby. ‘Black babies is bad.’ ‘That’s one’s a nigger, I’m a nigger, and that’s not good.’

As Max described it: ‘to be freed from slavery, and then to have to fight for years for their rights, putting up with the Jim Crow laws, was just plain stupid. Why are white people so stupid?’

Avoiding institutionalised segregation on public transport by car pooling

The freedom marches

Next stop, down Highway 61 to Clarksdale, Missouri, birthplace of the Blues.

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