Visit to the historic Lorraine Motel

Lorraine Motel.JPG

If you have never been to the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination it is quite the experience. Located on Mulberry Street in Memphis, Tennessee is the site of The National Civil Rights Museum which is a complex of museums and historic buildings that trace the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 17th century to the present. The museum is built around the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Following the assassination of King, the owner Walter Bailey withdrew Room 306 (where King died) and the adjoining room 307 from use and eventually reduced the operation by converting the other motel rooms to single room occupancy for low-income residential use. At the end of the motel’s public operation, the Lorraine Motel housed temporary guests and residents. The last resident was Jacqueline Smith, who had lived there since 1973 while working for the motel as a housekeeper. When the motel was closed in 1988, Smith had to be forcibly evicted. The neighborhood at the time around the Lorraine Motel was a lower-income, predominantly black area. Owners of these properties have demolished the houses, redeveloping the area with more expensive apartments and condominiums.

Smith set up camp across the street and has maintained a protest vigil for the last 28 years.