A couple of weeks ago my family and I took off to Memphis, TN for a weekend getaway. We’d been there before, but the trip revolved around business and opportunities for sightseeing were limited. If you know anything at all about Memphis, you know that it is the home of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The motel has been expanded to include the National Civil Rights Museum.
We decided to take the tour and of course most of the information we’d learned about before. My son is sixteen and has always loved reading and watching the series, Their Eyes Were On The Prize. He’s read all types of Civil Rights books/information, so this wasn’t foreign to him. However, as we went through the museum, new nuggets of knowledge were being found all around us. For every activist, freedom rider, and protester that we knew of, there were five more that we’d never heard of. Each of their stories were inspirational and some, completely heartbreaking.
My son, Joshua, who thought he knew it all (like most teenagers do) found himself reading and soaking up information that he wasn’t previously privy to. As the tour went on, I watched his face transform from one of a know it all to one of a student studying for finals. He read every plaque so intently. The video footage of the lunch counter sit ins (as they always have) captivated him. He remarked about how calm the protesters all stayed in the face of evil and despite being physically removed. He also admitted that he didn’t know one single person who could or would non-violently stand up to the violence and hatred the way that those men and women did during the Civil Rights Movement.
So much memorabilia, a multitude of artifacts, but we were all left speechless, humbled, and emotional when we reached the room where Dr. King stayed. Tears fell as we looked through the glass partition that separated us from the balcony where he was killed. We lingered, we listened to the audio that played, we were transported back in time and the emotional pain was real. The expression on my son’s face was priceless. I knew that what he’d experienced was life changing (as it should have been).
As we left the museum to return to our car, we passed a mural on a wall that my son had seen, but didn’t see. Initially, he walked by it and said something like “Cool.” When we passed it again, his reaction was totally different. He wanted pictures in front of the mural to remind himself of our trip and how he is to always stand up and be the man he was ordained to be.
We headed home the next day and the ride was filled with conversation about the current political climate, the hate that’s being spread, and how the country is purposefully being divided. My heart swelled with pride as I heard my son talk of standing up for what’s right, letting his voice be heard, and walking in the brave steps of those that have gone before him. He decided to honor his past, his ancestors by continuing to educate himself and living the life that they fought and sacrificed to make possible for all of us. My son has always been confident, we’ve taught him who he is and who’s he is, and in his words, “I am a young man and I will always carry myself as such.” I thought I was excited to see the adult he’d become before, but now, watch out world! Our past has further inspired his future.
Stacey Covington-Lee invites you to follow her at https://www.facebook.com/StaceyCovingtonLee, https://twitter.com/covingtonlee, https://www.instagram.com/scovingtonlee, and http://www.staceycovingtonlee.com. Stacey’s works of fiction can also be found at https://www.amazon.com/Stacey-Covington-Lee/e/B00IQFO0V6.