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Memphis Public Library

National Civil Rights Museum

Jackie Smith, Museum Protester

Cleveland, Mississippi

Luther Brown @
Delta State University

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  Sunday, February 24

Get On the Bus 2002: Day 3
- The Memphis Public Library
- National Civil Rights Museum
- Drive 118 miles to Cleveland MS in the Mississippi Delta, and
- Dinner with Luther Brown, head of the
Delta State University Center for Culture and Learning.

Memphis Public Libarary

Today,some of our group started the day visiting the newly rennovated Memphis Public Library. The artwork outside the museum created some controversy during its unveiling late last year because it includes the words "Workers of the world unite" within a collage of influential images and ideas from history.

The sculptural exhibit outside the library

Finding inspiration in the non-violent philosphy of Gandhi, Satya Graba.

How'd this get in there?

Here I am with the offending phrase. "I am not now, nor ever have been, a member of the communist party."

National Civil Rights Museum

Next, we visted the National Civil Rights Museum located at the former Lorraine Motel, the site of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assasination. We also spoke with Jackie Smith, a former tenant of the Lorraine Motel, who has maintained a 22-hour-per day vigil outside the museum for 14 years because she believes it unworthy of the memory of Dr. King.

Visit Ms. Smith's website at

Outside the museum.

Here are some members of the class discussing the exhibits we had just seen. (Cameras were not allowed within the museum.)

Ms. Smith protests across the street from the museum.

Jacqueline Smith.

The group talking with Ms. Smith.

Here we are a bit au natural.

An excerpt from Libby Pozolo's journal:
. . . Right now I am in Cleveland, Mississippi. The National Civil Rights Museum was way cool! It was basically a bunch of timelines and various exhibits summarizing black history and the civil rights movement from slavery all the way up to King's assassination. After you walk through the entire museum it leads up to the actual room and balcony where King was shot. I found it to be very moving to be standing in the same spot that Martin Luther King, Jr. stood when his life was ended. The NCRM has recreated the room so that it looks the way it did when King was staying there. Then we went and talked with Jackie Smith. She has a booth set up on the corner across from the Lorraine Motel. She has been sitting in that spot for over 14 years! Ms. Smith is protesting the fact that poor people were kicked out of their housing in order for the hotel to be transformed into a museum. Some of her points were understandable and made sense to me. She feels that King would not have wanted people to be evicted in this fashion in an effort to commemorate him. This woman is a prime example of someone who feels so passionately about something that she is willing to devote her entire life to her cause.
Today was a beautiful day for driving. The weather was warm, sunny, and gorgeous. Upon arriving in Cleveland, we met Luther Brown for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. He is going to be taking us around the Delta the next couple days. He seems to know a lot about the history of the Delta as well as what the current situation is here. It should be quite interesting. . .


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