On Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, Memphis and the nation will honor the world’s greatest Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his national holiday MLK Day. In Memphis, local monuments of remembrance, museums and places of faith offer ample ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with family and friends with events that honor King and all he accomplished for us.
The NCRM is perhaps the most important attraction in Memphis. In terms of history and the city’s role in the worldwide struggle for civil rights, it’s a must-visit for visitors and locals alike. After its renovation and reopening in 2014, the NCRM does an even better job of telling that story with immersive, multimedia, and interactive exhibits that focus on the people behind a movement that continues today.
The museum is located at the Lorraine Motel in the South Main neighborhood of downtown Memphis. It is free to observe the plaza and the balcony where Dr. King was standing when he was killed. For the King Day celebration, the NCRM allows free entry from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Museum will also accept donations of money and food for the Mid-South Food Bank and Vitalant will host a blood drive on site, too. If you are able to give blood, you will be given an admission pass valid any day on 2023.
Stop by the Mason Temple (930 Mason Street)
This is where Dr. King delivered the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech on the night before his assassination. You can read the speech or listen to a recording of Dr. King giving the speech here. For MLK Day in Memphis, make a stop to look at the building. It is currently the world headquarters for the Church of God In Christ.
Visit The I AM A MAN Plaza at Clayborn Temple (280 Hernando Street)
The “I AM A MAN” plaza, which is adjacent to Clayborn Temple across the street from FedExForum. If you haven’t been since it was installed in 2018, I encourage you to take a quiet moment and visit. It honors the people of the 1968 Sanitation Workers Strike, the people who Dr. King traveled to Memphis to support before his assassination.
Visit MLK Reflection Park (2nd and MLK Ave.)
Opened as a part of MLK50 (the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination in 2018) this park in downtown Memphis is home to the “I Have Been To The Mountaintop” sculpture, water features, and historical panels. It is only a block or two away from the National Civil Rights Museum and Clayborn Temple.
Visit The Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum (826 N. Second St.)
Located at the former Burkle Estate, this antebellum home served as a station on the Underground Railroad in the 1800s. Walk the floors of the home that was a part of this secret system, which aided escaped enslaved people in their journey out of the South long before Emancipation and the Civil Rights Movement.