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Balcony to Open at Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis, will close at the end of business on Monday, November 5, for renovations. During the renovations, for the first time, the balcony of the Lorraine Motel will be open to the public.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis, will close at the end of business on Monday, November 5, for renovations. During the renovations, for the first time, the balcony of the Lorraine Motel will be open to the public.

That mean you will be able to stand on the exact spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took his final breath.

No doubt it will be painful for most, but an important link to our past.

“To have that iconic moment that so many people experience when they come here,” said Barbara Andrews, “they’ll be able to walk on the balcony for a period of time.”

Andrews is the Director of Education for the museum.

“I think people being allowed to go up on the balcony will enable them to feel closer to history; closer to Dr. King,” she said.

Andrews also believes visitors will get a better perspective on just how far Dr. King was standing from the bathroom window, from which James Earl Ray fired his fatal bullet.

“I think that is really going to be important for some of our visitors,” said Andrews, “to have a new dimension; to be right there in that space.”

“I look forward to standing in the same spot,” said Johnnie Mosley.

Mosley is a frequent visitor to the National Civil Rights Museum and the son of a sanitation worker who marched in 1968, whose plight brought MLK to Memphis.

“When you get to the part where Dr. King gave his last breath,” said Mosley, “it puts you in one of those silent moods.”

While museum guests and staff alike are excited to have the balcony open, there are some reservations.

“I imagine,” said Andrews, “we’ll have some visitors who won’t want to go up on the balcony just because it might be too emotional.”

But for others, it may further heal old wounds.

“It will help bring the community together even more.” Mosley said.

Monday will be the last day the main part of the Civil Rights Museum will be open to the public.

After that, it will be closed for fourteen months of renovations. On November 19, the balcony will open to the public - probably until next spring.

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