Every third Monday in January, we celebrate the life of Civil Rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The day has been a federal holiday since 1983, a designation that was given after three decades of campaigning, including by Stevie Wonder, who released the song Happy Birthday to promote recognition for the holiday and later sang it at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication in Washington D.C. in 2011. 

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was fatally shot in 1968, was a significant location in the story of Black American history, even before Dr. King’s tragic death on the premises. During the years after Dr. King’s death, the motel fell into disrepair and it eventually closed in 1988. A dedicated group of activists sought to preserve the motel’s history, transforming it into the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, one of the preeminent Black American history museums, in 1991.

This short documentary tells that story.

Article Author

Natalie Bicknell Argerious (she/her) is a reporter and podcast host at The Urbanist. She previously served as managing editor. A passionate urban explorer since childhood, she loves learning how to make cities more inclusive, vibrant, and environmentally resilient. You can often find her wandering around Seattle's Central District and Capitol Hill with her dogs and cat. Email her at natalie [at] theurbanist [dot] org.