Almost, half a century has gone by since Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assasinated. He was silenced on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before that he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city.
This week, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as Americans approach his 50th anniversary on MLK Day this Monday.
In what is titled the “City of Hope,” the museum is filled with photos, historical memorabilia and verbal discussions on the movement following King’s assassination; over a month-long protest in Washington D.C., remembered as “Resurrection City” of 1968. Over 3,000 civil rights advocates camped out at the National Mall bringing nationwide attention to systemic poverty in the African American community. Fast-forward 50 years and his anniversary aligns with the Poor People’s Campaign originally launched by King one year before his death. Smithsonian is highlighting the last campaign of one of the most memorable figures in American history along with one of the largest civil rights encampments hardly discussed in textbooks.
Smithsonian curator, Aaron Bryant told the Washingtonian: “We want to make people aware this event happened. Generally, in the history books, Martin Luther King did these things, and he died, and that was the end of civil rights. We never really talk about there was an actual movement after his assassination, and there was a legacy that we’re still dealing with today, that we still have benefits of today, that we can learn from.”
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Located in Atlanta Georgia, this center was started in 2014 by historical civil rights leaders such as Andrew Young and John Lewis. A unique element of this museum is their Sports for Change Exhibit explaining how athletes used that exposure to promote civil rights.
National Civil Rights Museum
The site where MLK was assassinated, the Lorraine Motel, was transformed into a museum dedicated to his legacy. Visitors can visit the motel room King was occupying on the day of his death or hop in a vintage bus with fellow civil rights figure, Rosa Parks.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
This museum is committed to showing the historical significance of Birmingham, Virginia during the civil rights movement. It has had over 2 million guests since its opening in 1992 and educates visitors on key events like the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History
This largest African American history museum in the world is located in Detroit, Michigan and was originally called the Afro-American Museum. However, after over 30 years of expansion, it was rebranded with the founder’s name: Charles H. Wright.
African-American Museum in Philadelphia
Constructed in 1976, the “Philly Museum” focuses on the historical value of its city’s region. With 4 display rooms and an auditorium, the museum covers over a century of African American history.
DuSable Museum of African-American History
Early settler of Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, was a Haitian of African and French lineage and featured in the museum’s title as an originator of the city’s African American history, culture, and art. Founded in 1961 by Dr. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, this establishment is known for an exhibition on Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington.
National Museum of African-American History and Culture
This museum is the most recent facility opened dedicated to civil rights and is located in the heart of our nation’s capital; Washington D.C. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, former President Barack Obama led the grand opening roughly 2 years ago and attracted over 600,000 visitors in its first 3 months. There are a number of rare artifacts to view originally owned by African American figures such as Harriet Tubman and Muhammad Ali.
This Monday recognizes the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day during one of the most racially-fueled periods in American history. The Smithsonian National Museum reviving his legacy with the City of Hope shows how significant these issues still are nearly half a century later. Regardless of the president’s (or anyone’s) beliefs on race, it’s important to educate children on history that is still affecting hundreds of thousands of citizens nationwide. This Monday, we stand as one entity to improve the love we have for our fellow brothers and sisters while we continue to bring Dr. King’s dream to reality.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
“Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]”
On Friday, President Donald J. Trump quoted Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while signing a proclamation for his upcoming anniversary stating, “no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are created equal by God.” Shortly after, he refused to answer a reporter’s query on whether or not he was racist and left the meeting without a word. This follows the president’s most recent comments allegedly favoring certain foreign regions such as “Norway” over immigrants from “shithole countries.” This was reportedly in reference to Haiti and Africa. Although it’s unclear which countries he was referring to or if his words were taken out of context, MLK’s anniversary is in the midst of lawmakers negotiating immigration policies that could potentially deny children and long-time foreign residents immunity from deportation. The issue of race and poverty-stricken communities are creating heated debates in and outside of the White House which Smithsonian is attempting to reflect with their exclusive City of Hope.
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