Sanford: Civil Rights Trail highlights Memphis history, but why only three?

Ja'Marieon Anderson looks out a window in the National Civil Rights Museum near the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. was struck down by a bullett on January 16, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee. Hundreds marched from the north end of downtown Memphis in honor of the civil rights leader to the site where King was assassinated in 1968, which now houses the National Civil Rights Museum. (Photo by Mike Brown/Getty Images)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Without a doubt, Memphis deserves to be in any national conversation about important places and moments during the Civil Rights Movement. That’s why it was gratifying to learn that the city is home to three locations on the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

Governor Bill Haslam, joined by Senator Lamar Alexander and other officials, announced the three sites Wednesday during a ceremony at the National Civil Rights Museum – which is one of the three locations. The others are Clayborn Temple and Mason Temple.

The Civil Rights Trail features more than 100 historic sites in 14 states that played major roles during the Civil Rights Movement.

The Memphis sites are a no-brainers. The Civil Rights Museum is housed at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

Clayborn Temple served as the rallying point for striking city sanitation workers in 1968, and Mason Temple is where Dr. King gave his famous “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop” speech the night before he was killed.

The only quibble I have with the Memphis selections is why only three? Why not include, for example, LeMoyne-Owen College where students there led a sit-in movement in 1960 to desegregate public libraries and department store lunch counters?  By contrast, Nashville has six sites on the trail.

Nevertheless, the civil rights legacy of Memphis is strong and we should celebrate this rich history as much as possible.