(Memphis) The balcony outside the Lorraine Motel at the National Civil Rights Museum where Dr. Martin Luther King Junior was shot and killed in April of 1968 is open to the public for the first time.
The balcony will be open for just over a year as the main part of the museum is closed for renovations.
In the past, only dignitaries and Freedom Award Honorees have been allowed on the balcony.
“To see the angle where the shot supposedly came from it just, it’s really sad and meaningful. I think its important that our children don’t for get the sacrifices that were made. You know with interracial friends when that was going on that wasn’t allowed,” said Heidi Lehman who was visiting the museum from Nashville.
“Me personally I’m glad that we were here at this point in time and had the opportunity to experience it different than other people. I think for our children I think it’s something they will actually remember,” said LaShonda Harris.
While many were excited to walk on the balcony, some did not jump at the opportunity.
“I think it takes away from it being sacred. I think it takes away from it being kind of, it being a monument. It’s now more of an attraction and I don’t necessarily agreewith that,” said Tiffany Taylor who was visiting from Stone Mountain Georgia.
With the main building closed the balcony will be the only way visitors will be able to see into room 306 where Dr. King was staying in April of 1968.
Museum operators are working to make sure the balcony remains sacred.
“Realize that it is for some people a sacred space that we should protect it with just being respectful and quiet and realize that other people are having an emotional moment,” said Connie Dyson from the National Civil Rights Museum.
The building across the street will remain open during the renovations.
Currently there is working going on around the balcony to building a wheelchair ramp.
Rates are reduced while the renovations are underway.
The work is expected to be completed in 2014.