Memphis and the Final Days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Memphis holds a sad place in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The evening before his death, Dr. King delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, a speech that famously addressed the possibility of his death but reaffirmed his fearlessness in the face of the opposition: “…I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land…” Dr. King’s final speech and subsequent murder brought worldwide attention to the fight for civil rights.
The city’s civil rights legacy lives on in many ways, including on Beale Street and at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Beale Street has hosted legendary African American musicians for decades and was the site of some of the first Black-owned businesses in the South. The Stax Museum pays tribute to not only the Stax record label that promoted many of the greats, but also to the musicians who have inspired people for generations.