Monday, February 23, 2009

Civil Rights Ignorance Runs Amuck @ The National Civil Rights Museum...

"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots."
Marcus Garvey

"If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated."
Dr. Carter G. Woodson

"History is a people's memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals."
Malcolm X

"I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me."
Ralph Ellison

My name is Ronald Herd II a.k.a. R2C2H2 Tha Artivist. I am a concerned citizen of Memphis also known as the City of Good Abode. I thought this would be the perfect time to share some insight into what is currently passing as customer service & narrative excellence at the National Civil Rights Museum.

I was recently disappointed in the narrative presentation by two different tour guides on two separate occasions at the museum. The first disappointment took place Nov. 1, 2008. I was the local community organizer representative for Amnesty International. Amnesty International at that time was granted a special tour of the museum. Amnesty International was of course in town to have their annual southern regional conference. Although there were several tours that evening given for Amnesty International, the particular one I was on was an utter disappointment. The woman who led the tour was unenthusiastic and did not seem to possess a sincere grasp and understanding of the materials she was presenting. The crowd did not seem energized by her or by the wonderful exhibits and artifacts presented at your institution. I was truly utterly disappointed and chose to cut my tour short with my guest.

The second time I had issue with the quality of the presentation of your institution was Saturday Dec. 6, 2008. I brought a friend from Atlanta to view this true national treasure. This was her first time going to the museum. The tour guide once again did a very poor and inferior job of following the narrative laid out by your institution. She told folks that Marcus Garvey discovered Liberia and she even confused John Lewis with James Meredith. She made every mistake possible in relaying the Scottsboro Nine case and even told our group that Emmett Till was discovered in a ditch and not the Tallahatchie River. Although she had tons of enthusiasm she clearly lacked knowledge and how to disseminate it. She had no business being a tour guide let alone a gatekeeper/guardian of such a precious narrative such as the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.

When I helped her with the history of the Highlander School she asked if I would be interested in helping her co-lead the tour. I respectfully declined. I did not pay $20 for my guest and I to being doing this poor lady’s job for free.

What was really frightening was the fact that many of the older people in our group and some of the elders that should have known better did not correct her. We had young people in our group being misled by people they are suppose to trust. The blind is leading the blind. This is not only irresponsible but is also very precarious and can really hurt the National Civil Museum’s brand and reputation if this type of mediocrity is continued in terms of how the tour guides are selected and/or trained. I shudder to think about how many people have been bamboozled , hoodwinked and led astray by the incompetence and futility of some of your tour guides.

Just because people are hungry doesn’t mean they should be served rat poison to eat. With that said I urge you to train your tour guides better so that people can get a better understanding as to why your extraordinary institution exists in the first place. There is a clear need for the services your organization can offer, but I must remind you that dysfunctionality doesn’t replace functionality.

When I was younger, I use to volunteer along with my mom as a tour guide when the museum first opened its doors. I took so much pride and interest in helping my mom present the story during my tenure that my love and fondness for our nation’s history, the good, bad and the ugly, has grown since then. I am more than happy to offer my expertise in ensuring that your tour guides are better trained and acclimated to the demands and purpose of their jobs. Just like the sanitation workers strike that moved MLK to come to Memphis over 40 years ago there still is a fierce urgency to get this narrative right, right now. The future is present thus the zeitgeist or the spirit of the times dictates/demands action in the affirmative.

Sincerely not in malice but in goodwill,
Ron Herd II a.k.a.

Tha Artivist
Founder Of W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News

An Untold Backstory Of The Founding Of The National Civil Rights Museum...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: February 18, 2007~"We Shall Overcome"-The Henry Hampton Collection (Creator of the Award Winning Eyes On The Prize Documentary)

It Was All A Dream: Tigers' Connection To 68...

Find A Civil Rights Veteran Today!!!

Eye-Witness To The Crucifixion: The Last Days Of MLK...

Topic: If Memphis Could Talk Part 4~April 4th, 1968, Another Perspective...

Listen To The Exclusive 'Heating Up The Civil Rights Cold Case Files With Bro. Jerry Mitchell' Interview Only On...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: We Decide 2008:

Dr. Young Gives Food For Thought On What It's Like To Be A Civil Rights Pioneer...

No comments: