Memphis Blues

December 29, 2007

Not all lessons are learned in the classroom. And for the Georgetown University men's basketball team, not all lessons are learned on the hardwood.

The then number five-ranked Hoyas arrived in Tennessee on a Thursday evening in preparation for the team's game last Saturday against the number two-ranked Memphis.

After settling in to the team's hotel in Memphis, the team practiced at tiny Rhodes College, a small school with approximately 1,700 students located in an historic area of the city's downtown. The Lynx compete at the Division III level in college athletics and in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. Georgetown Director of Basketball Operations Matt Henry helped arrange the practice at the school's Mallory Gymnasium. Henry is a graduate and former assistant men's basketball coach at Trinity University in Texas, one of Rhodes' foes in the SCAC.


Beale Street in downtown Memphis

Following the Georgetown practice, Head Coach John Thompson III and the Hoyas hopped on a bus to the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis.

The downtown area of Memphis is under-going a period of revitalization, and the National Civil Rights Museum can be easily missed, but a visit there leaves quite an impression.

As you walk up Mulberry Street, the building is unremarkable until you get to the entrance of the museum and look to the right and see a bouquet of flowers on the second floor. The flowers are outside Rooms 306 and 307 of the former Lorraine Motel, the place where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. It is there where you really feel the true impact of your visit.

The Lorraine Motel was a small, minority-owned motel in the south-end of downtown Memphis. After Dr. King's assassination in 1968, the motel went into a steep decline. The motel's owner, Walter Lane Bailey, kept rooms 306 and 307 intact as a shrine to Dr. King. By 1982, the building was a foreclosed property, but a group of Memphians formed the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation, and the Lorraine Motel was saved. The National Civil Rights Museum was opened for the public in 1991.

The Hoyas at the fateful Lorraine Hotel




After a 10-minute introductory video on Dr. King and the civil rights movement, the team strolled through the museum, reading about the history of such people as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Rosa Parks and Dr. King. There are exhibits on the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision and movements in Little Rock and Montgomery Bus Boycott, student sit-ins, Freedom Rides, Project C Birmingham and the March on Washington.

Perhaps the most compelling area of the museum is when you stop by the spot where Rooms 306 and 307 are located and you look out on the balcony where King was shot and see how much the rooms still resemble the way they were on that morning.

Still tragic and still provoking as ever.


Mike "Mex" Carey

Sports Information Director

Georgetown University






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