Racism, Segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement

Memphis played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement. With its high population of black people and a long history of racism and intolerance, Memphis was bound to become one of the centers of the movement.

It is only natural that the National Civil Rights Museum would find its home at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the location of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

This video shows three black men who lived in Memphis during the Civil Rights Movement and King’s assassination discussing their experiences:

Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to assist with the 1968 Sanitation Workers’ Strike.

There was a long string of mistreatment toward the sanitation workers. Workers were paid too little, had to work long hours, and suffered horrible working conditions. Then, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, two black sanitation workers, were crushed to death by a malfunctioning garbage truck. This incited the organization of the workers to strike, and MLK stepped in to guide them.

“When it comes to civil rights, it’s important not only to learn about historical milestones but also to interpret them in a way that can be applied to today’s challenges,” says the National Civil Rights Museum website.

The Civil Rights Movement put Memphis on the map. However, Memphis still feels the effects of segregation and institutionalized racism today. The communities in Memphis are highly segregated, creating all-white and all-black areas that propagate misunderstanding between the groups which breeds more racism and discrimination.



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