Students in Mrs. Peggy Haney’s civics classes at Melbourne High School traveled to Memphis, Tennessee on December 10, 2015 to visit the National Civil Rights Museum. Located at the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the museum provides historical insight into the key events of the American Civil Rights Movement that the students have been studying about in class.
The tour began at the Lorraine Motel where students learned more about the Jim Crow Laws, the Brown v. Board of Education case, the March on Washington, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott by viewing the many artifacts available. Once on the second floor of the motel, students stood within feet of where Martin Luther King, Jr. spent his last hours before being gunned down by James Earl Ray.
Isaac Motes, an eleventh grader at MHS, commented, “It really got my blood pumping. I mean, I was standing at the very spot where someone who changed the world got shot. I will never forget it.”
The significance of the moment was reinforced even more as the group visited the Legacy Building across the street. There, they saw the actual room where Ray fired the fatal shot, which still had the window cracked open where he took aim on that historic day.
“The students were also able to board a bus that was similar to the one which Rosa Parks took her stand and even got to see a replica of a ship hull where statues representing African slaves crouched in chains,” said Mrs. Haney. “I was pleased with the museum because there were so many exhibits that helped reinforce what the kids had been learning in class. I wanted my students to have a personal experience with history, to have a better understanding of the importance of the Civil Rights Movement.”
The tour ended with a discussion of the significant and sometimes tumultuous events that followed the assassination.