National Civil Rights Museum

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Peaceful Resistance - Civil Rights Movement

The National Civil Rights Museum focuses on the life, actions, and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his struggle to further the rights of disenfranchised citizens.   There are many prominent and well-known people who greatly helped further the civil rights movement and they too are honored here.  

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?"  Martin Luther King, Jr. 


While the museum focuses on Dr. King, it also has a story to tell about the civil rights movement as a whole.  It addresses the basis for the movement, how it began and who pushed it forward It is a story still being written. 

Lorraine Motel

The Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King was slain on July 4, 1968, is part of the museum complex.  

In the National Civil Rights Museum, you will also learn about James Earl Ray, who was a career criminal and an escaped convict when he shot King.

After the assassination, James Earl Ray was captured and imprisoned for his crime.  It was just before the age of the Internet and computers, so record keeping was done on paper.   

Many of the documents about Martin Luther King’s death and the capture and trial of James Earl Ray are displayed in the museum. 

The National Civil Rights Museum is tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and a treasured history of the civil rights movement.

As the National Civil Rights Museum, a unique, monumental attraction moves forward, it will continue to honor him and others instrumental in the movement, but it will also focus on the next steps, keeping the movement alive and social change for the future

Peaceful Resistance

Dr. King was an admirer of Gandhi’s non-violent means of creating change through civil resistance.  He visited India and talked with leaders of the Gandhian movement.  

He returned encouraged to proceed with a plan of nonviolent resistance.

If you were unaware of the admiration of Dr. King for Gandhi and his philosophies, it is a very important part of his path to becoming a world leader

Mahatmas Gandhi was a pioneer in peaceful disobedience to create change.  He organized masses of people in non-violent protest to further human rights in India.  His ideas and philosophies are still used throughout the world. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. lived the following quote:

"Be the change you want to see in the world."  Mahatma Gandhi

The huge volume of information here highlights to me that even as we study about the work of the leaders of the world, there is always more to learn.  

Our past leaders and the leaders of the future are often multifaceted, complex individuals with visions well beyond what many of us imagine in our day-to-day existence.  King and Gandhi were two such individuals

- Need to Know -

  • The National Civil Rights Museum is located in downtown Memphis at 450 Mulberry Street, about half a mile from Beale Street. 
  • Video listening stations are available to describe the events and people featured here.  
  • You can find the museum from the South Main Street side, or the main entrance on Mulberry Street.  You must enter on the Mulberry Street side. 
  • Free on-site parking is available next door to the Mulberry Street entrance.
  • The museum is easily accessible and has an elevator to the second floor. 

The Museum originally opened to the public in 1991.  Since then the Museum complex was renovated and re-opened in April of 2014.

Museum Hours

Monday and Wednesday through Saturday  9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Sunday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The Museum is closed every Tuesday. 

Closed on most major holidays, but open on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.

Check the Museum web site for summer hours. 

Free admission on Monday afternoon after 3:00 p.m. for Tennessee residents with state issued ID's.  This policy is not applicable during special events and holidays. 

Free admission does not apply to tour groups and operators.

YeaMemphis Tip - This museum is a rewarding, educational experience.  If you have the opportunity to read about Martin Luther King, Jr. before you go it will make your visit even more meaningful. 

If you do not have time to read very much, find some of Dr. King's quotes, they will give you a feel for his philosophy

When you exit the museum through the gift shop, you will be on South Main Street.  If possible arrange your visit so you have time to visit the galleries on South Main after you see the museum.  The Arcade Restaurant, a local favorite, is just down the street. 

The information and photos on this page will be updated when the renovations are complete. 

Civil Rights Museum, S Main side

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