A few years ago my husband and I drove cross country with our girls to the Smokey Mountains. (The road trip was my favorite part of that trip. The national park was awesome, but Gatlinburg can suck it.) Anyway, we stopped in Memphis the first night- sprung for a swanky hotel downtown, walked to a BBQ place I forget the name of, had a good night. The next morning we’re heading out and my husband says there has to be some history in Memphis we should see before we head out of town- this was Memphis! We’ve never been here- we should see something of it before we leave.
My joke response that I was sure there was a lynching tree around somewhere got a whole hell of a lot less funny (I’ll mock and belittle Southern racism till the day I die, thankyouverymuch.) when I saw the first thing that came up on a quick iPhone check of Memphis history. The Lorraine Motel.
There was no question. My husband immediately took the first right turn. There we were, leaving our downtown motel- and we were only 5 blocks away from this place. We went. Of course we went.
And then we were there. Staring at familiar turquoise railings. And a white and red funeral wreath that looks like a life preserver, marking the last spot where Dr. King stood. Weirdly maritime, to my eye. The unintended (?) symbolism lost to me. That’s where he was.
Our daughters didn’t know. So we talked. My youngest asked me to read the plaque- and I choked up at the end- the only Bible verse to ever do that to me.
“They said one to another, ‘Behold, here cometh the dreamer. Let us slay him and we shall see what will become of his dream.’” Genesis 37: 19-20