National Civil Rights Museum announces new leader

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A change in leadership at one of this city's most historic sites was announced Thursday.

The National Civil Rights Museum has undergone major changes this year, including a $27.5 million renovation. Thursday, WREG met the new museum president chosen to lead the facility into the future.

The board of directors for the National Civil Rights Museum introduced the new museum president, Terri Lee Freeman, to the Memphis media. Freeman will replace retiring museum president, Beverly Robertson, who led the museum as president these last 16 years.

"I come from a town where there are a lot of museums. I've never had the experience of being physically moved by a museum like I had when I came here the very first time," said Freeman.

While new to the museum world, Freeman is no stranger to charitable organizations. For the last 18 years, she's lead the Community Foundation in the Washington, D.C., area. She says her focus will be on fundraising and spreading the museum's story internationally.

"I don't care what your race is, what your ethnicity is, where you come from, you know what happened here," said Freeman.

The change in leadership comes immediately after the museum's major remodeling project. The Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in his fight for civil and human rights in the '60s has been transformed to resonate with a younger generation. Freeman says she hopes to build on that work.

Freeman said, "What good is a museum if it is just to house artifacts. If it doesn't raise the level of conversation, if it doesn't take you someplace else after you leave."

Freeman is set to take on her new role as president of the museum in November. Robertson will stay on until Freeman arrives.