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Family Reunion Forum

2016 Neal Family Reunion

Our 2016 Neal Family Reunion was held last weekend, July 29 – 31, 2016, in Memphis, Tennessee. It was a great family gathering! The reunion is for descendants of Eleazer L. Neal, Sr. and Ollie (Ward) Neal. The family home place is Winnsboro, Franklin, Louisiana. Family members traveled from across the U.S. to attend.

On Saturday afternoon, we visited the National Civil Rights Museum. This museum is on the site of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The museum chronicles key episodes of the Civil Rights Movement and examines current global civil and human rights issues. Founders Park, alongside the museum, contains civil rights banners that display photos from the movement. A couple of vintage automobiles are parked at the front of the motel to help mark the time period. There are videos on listening posts in the courtyard that give visitors an overview of the museum’s history and why Dr. King came to Memphis.

This was my first time visiting the museum. The tour is self-guided. The museum opened in July 1991 and underwent a major renovation in April 2014. I was quite impressed with the many exhibits and various information, including original video footage. Visitors may take pictures, but flash is prohibited.

There are two buildings to the museum. The main two-story building is built around the original Lorraine Motel. Dr. King stayed in Room 306. That room is set up and staged just as it was when Dr. King stayed there. Visitors walk by and view Room 306 through a glass wall. Other exhibits include a bus from the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott. Visitors can actually board the bus. Also, there is a Greyhound bus that carried Freedom Riders that had been torched/burned. As you conclude your self-guided tour through the main building you exit through a nice-sized gift shop that holds a variety of historical books, CDs, DVDs, and other artifacts.

The second building, called the Legacy Building, is across the street and encompasses the Main Street Rooming House where James Earl Ray fired the fatal shot. That building opened in 2002. I understand this portion of the museum houses the various legal documents pertaining to the investigations surrounding Dr. King’s assassination. The weather was so very hot, it zapped my energy so I did not go through the second building.

If you ever are in Memphis, I definitely recommend you visit this museum. Saturdays seem to be the museum’s busiest day so try to avoid going on that day. As an aside, Central BBQ is located immediately behind and across the street from the museum. They serve delicious Memphis-style BBQ.

Ever since our Millennium Reunion in 2000, we have held our family reunion every other year. Our next reunion will be in 2018 in Houston, Texas. In 2020, we will be back in the family home place, Winnsboro, Louisiana.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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