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    National Civil Rights Museum reopening showcases the "best" of Memphis

    Jason Bolton

    The reopening of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis

    At the official reopening ceremony Saturday, the symbolic chains surrounding the National Civil Rights Museum’s entrance were removed from the newly renovated and reimagined museum, forty-six years and a day after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on the second floor balcony to the right of the entrance.
    Notable speakers at the ceremony included Memphis City Mayor A C Wharton, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Congressman Steve Cohen, talk show host and commentator Tavis Smiley, civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette Jr., museum founder D’Army Bailey and president Beverly Robertson.
    Bailey gave a history of the efforts to establish a museum at the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, including details on raising the money to buy the Lorraine Motel on the steps of the courthouse for $144,000 in 1982 and later putting together capital needed to the convert the motel into the museum.
    Robertson noted the time, effort and resources that the nearly year and a half, $27 million renovation took to complete. Robertson's call for an ovation for the Memphis Sanitation Strike workers—several of whom attended the ceremony—was met with a loud and appreciative round of applause from the several hundred people attending the reopening ceremony.
    Wharton spoke of what other cities have to offer and his hope that Memphis be known as “the conscience of America” and that the museum reopening showed “the best that our city has to offer.”