“For Us the Living” Visits to Civil Rights Museums

Martin Luther King (left) with Malcolm X (right), 1964, courtesy of the U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection at the Library of Congress.

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“For Us the Living” Visits to Civil Rights Museums

by Robert Hamburger
Southern Cultures, Vol. 14, No. 3: Civil Rights

"'When I came to, I was laying on the seat of a car and my sister was leaning over me. I thought she was crying. I could feel her warm tears spilling down on my face. But they weren't tears. She was bleeding because someone had hit her upside the head. And the next day we were marching again.'"

“How many of you know what a lynching really is?” The tour guide at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis is speaking to a high school group, mostly African American. “Well, here’s a picture of one.” She points to a grim, grainy photograph. No doubt, most in the group could have defined “lynching,” but how many had ever seen a photograph of one? From the looks on their faces, very few. The group moves on, but several boys hang back to examine the photograph in silence.