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National Civil Rights Museum

2019-06-03 – Traveling West – Eureka Springs, AR to Oklahoma City, OK

We left the RV park this morning with high anticipation.  Due to posting a few photos of the two Fay Jones chapels on Facebook, we have been invited to view a Fay Jones home nearby, just outside Fayetteville, AR.  In short, it was spectacular!  It is sited on a golf course, on a 1/2 acre lot…

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Immediately we saw the detailing of lighting fixtures all around the yard, carport, and entry…

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Note the blank front of the house – hidden front door, no front porch, and no windows…

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Inside, the entry has a custom designed light fixture…

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The Living Room…

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The Kitchen…

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The Dining Room.  The table and all cabinets are custom designed by the architect…

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Architect-designed bar stools…

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The study was originally a teenage daughter’s bedroom; this is the custom desk and bookshelves…

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Blueprints from Frank Lloyd Wright’s office for an unbuilt house line the wall… All the bedrooms have custom built-in wardrobes, dressers, and bureaus…

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The rear of the house opens to the back patio, a koi pond, and the golf course beyond…

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The house was designed by Fay Jones at about the time of the Thorncrown Chapel.  The current owner has been here a little more than 10 years.  (PS:  the house is for sale!  Sale includes all the Fay Jones-designed furniture and fixtures…)

It was hard to leave this place, but we must move on.  We headed towards Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma is surprisingly green!

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We checked into Twin Fountains RV Resort… Very upscale place!  It has a bar and grill, pools, rec rooms, miniature golf, a lounge, and a concierge.  (A limousine is available for free rides to any of the attractions within 3 miles of the RV park…)

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We hailed an Uber and headed to downtown Oklahoma City…

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This is one entrance to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum…

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Printed on this wall (and lots of other places) is the mission statement for the Memorial:  We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.

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These two giant black granite walls flank the reflecting pond…

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9:01 everything was normal; the blast was 9:02; the healing began 9:03…

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The chairs sit on the site of the former building; they are in nine rows, corresponding to the nine stories.  You’ll notice that all the small chairs are in rows one and two…

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This former newspaper building is now the museum…

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This is the survivor tree – it was covered in rubble and most of the branches were blown off, but the tree survived.  Every year they harvest seeds, plant seedlings, and then distribute them to various stakeholders…

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This is the new Federal Building, built across the street…

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From this viewing window in the museum you can see the memorial below…

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It is a sobering remembrance, but, for us, it did not have the impact of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis…

We looked for a downtown street to walk, one with shops, restaurants, and bars.  We couldn’t find any.  Downtown Oklahoma City appears to be a concrete jungle of office buildings… By 6:00 pm it was deserted…

As is our custom, we returned to the Villa for Happy Hours and a light supper; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-30 – Traveling West – Memphis, TN

Today was a day of contrasts…

First the silly:

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The RV park is right next to the Graceland Visitors Center, so we sort of had to visit… Of course, I never miss an opportunity to visit an interesting house, and this one certainly qualifies…

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We toured the first floor of the house, and visited the basement recreation room.  Elvis bought the house in 1957 and lived here for 20 years until his death in 1977.  Every room was outrageously decorated in the latest 1960s and 1970s style.  I won’t insult your eyes to show many pictures…

The 15′ long sofa in the Living was impressive…

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Dining Room has china remarkingly similar to our own…

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The kitchen is total 1970s…

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The “Media Room” has the latest in TVs…

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The record collection!

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The racquetball court!

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The property is quite beautiful… over 13 acres…

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The grave site of Elvis, his mother and father, and his grandmother…

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Something I had not known:  Elvis had a twin brother who was still-born…

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Not sure what this guy is doing on the roof…

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We left the house tour and returned to the Visitors Center and walked through the exhibits… The only interesting area that I liked were all of Elvis’ cars… Continental Mark II, two Mercedes 600 limousines, MGA, a few Cadillacs, and more…

No photos though…

We returned to the Villa, and caught an Uber into an area just a few blocks south of Downtown…

 

We were unprepared for this…

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Those of you who are my age (or older) know what this is…

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The Lorraine Motel went into bankruptcy a few years later, but was purchased by a local non-profit in 1982.  Today it is the site of the National Civil Rights Museum…

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The museum was very sobering.  Starting with the history of slavery, then moving on through the eras of the build-up to the Civil War, the war itself, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era.  It clearly outlined how the 13th amendment ended slavery, the 14th amendment granted citizenship to all former slaves, and the 15th amendment guaranteed the right to vote for all citizens.  That was 1870.  Except that in 1877 the Reconstruction era ended and the Federal troops left the south.  One by one the southern states all ignored the US Constitution and rewrote their state constitutions and laws to take away these rights and to mandate racial segregation.

Apparently no one in the Federal government cared, nor did the Supreme Court…

In 1896 the Supreme Court (nine old white men) ignored the amendments and, in Plessy v. Ferguson, they gave the green light to “separate but equal”… Jim Crow was now the law in the south…

The museum continued through the world wars, and finally Brown vs Board of Education, in 1954.  The case for integrated education and the elimination of “separate but equal” (which was always unequal) was heard before the court in 1952, but a highly divided court couldn’t make a ruling.  Finally, with Earl Warren newly sworn in as Chief Justice, Warren wrangled the other justices into a unanimous decision and the Supreme Court (nine old white men) said that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional.

Again, the southern states refused; in 1955 the court mandated that that they all comply.  It took Federal troops at the University of Mississippi to enroll James Meredith in 1962, it until 1963 that the University of Alabama admitted its first black students, and the State of Mississippi finally eliminated their “colored” schools in 1970.

The museum continued with the Freedom Riders, and Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins, the Montgomery bus boycott and Rosa Parks.  And the Children’s crusade. And the KKK.  And the church bombings.  And the lynchings… As I said, it was a very sobering exhibit.

The museum ends with visitors walking past and viewing the room where Martin Luther King was staying when he was shot…

(As good as the museum was, it dealt strictly with African Americans in the south.  There was no mention of discrimination of against Chinese in California, or of segregated schools in Massachusetts…)

We then walked across the street to see where James Earl Ray fired the single shot that killed Dr. King; the boarding house is the brick building beyond… The entrance tunnel leads to the basement; we went to the top floor…

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The bathroom window where the shots were fired…

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The view of room 306 in the motel…

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The exhibits in the boarding house are all about the search for Ray.  Even though there were FBI agents watching Dr. King along with 11 Memphis city police at the fire station across the street, Ray escaped.  He wasn’t captured until six weeks later, in London.

I had read an extensive book many years ago on James Earl Ray, and his six weeks on the run, and all the conspiracy theories…  We didn’t need to spend much time here…

But now it was late afternoon… We walked to downtown Memphis, about five blocks away…

We found Beale Street; home of the Blues…

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We found the ballpark, but didn’t stick around for the game…

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We had a drink at the Corner Bar at the Peabody Hotel…

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And we had dinner at Cafe Society, a nice French Bistro…

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We returned to the Villa, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

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