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I Went to Memphis and All I Came Back with Was a T-Shirt and Inspiration


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Remember those t-shirts that our grandparents and parents used to buy us when they left us at home and went on an adult vacation--the slogan said something like, "My grandma went to Hawaii, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." Apparently, this "lousy t-shirt" saying is something a lot of people write about--I'll let you do your own Google search.
 
But I bring it up today because I just returned from a retreat/vacation in Memphis with my daughter...and came back with a new t-shirt--not a lousy one! We booked an extra big hotel room, brought a lot of snacks, and spent a good deal of time lounging around, reading, and relaxing while she played games on her tablet and made videos for her YouTube channel, and I wrote and edited. 

Now back to the t-shirt. One thing we actually left our hotel room for and went to was the National Civil Rights Museum at The Lorraine Motel, which for any of you history buffs will sound familiar. That's the place where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was tragically shot and killed on April 4, 1968. This is a powerful museum built on the spot where one of the most famous leaders of the Civil Rights movement lost his life. The museum displays discussed the rights of Black Americans from the moment they were forced on slave ships to the "New World" to Dr. King being assassinated to modern-day Freedom Award winners, people fighting for human rights around the world.
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After you stand practically where Dr. King was shot and read about how the Memphis sanitation strike turned out, you walk into a gift shop before you can get out the front door and over to the second building of the museum. (Museum designers know what they are doing...) I wanted to buy something here for myself and my daughter to support one of the best museums I had ever been to, but also to show my support for human rights everywhere, and my hope that some day racial tension and violence will be wiped from this earth. 

A t-shirt, with the saying to the left, caught my eye, and I knew I had to buy it.

We learned about some amazing women of color--Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Ida B. Wells, Claudette Colvin, and more. The quote is referring to them, to suffragettes, to feminists, to any woman standing up against a mysgonistic society and following her dreams.

It's referring to me. It's referring to you. It's referring to my daughter--to any of us who are using our voices--through the written word, spoken word, podcasts, audio books, telling our stories--fiction and nonfiction. We are not quieted down. We are standing up, and we are making history. 

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I know that slogging to your desk some days may not feel much like making history. The dog wants to be fed. You're running low on coffee. The laundry still has be done, and your children are fighting over who's sitting in the front seat on the way to school. But even then, if you're not allowing your voice to be silenced, if you're thinking about that story or poem or memoir or self-help book you will write later, you're making history. 

I will wear my new t-shirt with pride. I will tell everyone I meet to go to Memphis and go to the National Civil Rights Museum--Graceland is awesome, but this museum should be required.

As you know from reading this blog, my publishing company, Editor-911 Books (a small, traditional publisher), is about to publish Sioux's book, Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, about the Tulsa Race Massacre. Here's the display in the museum about that event. It was on a big wall that had several "Racial Terrorism" events as horrific as that seems:

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We are making history with Sioux's book, and some people may think we are not well-behaved for publishing it. But I'm so excited for children and adults to read Henry's story, and the love, sweat, tears, and hope that Sioux poured into that book. (She is donating all her proceeds to Greenwood, and as the publisher, I am also making regular donations.)

Life is so strange the way it takes us on a journey, and we often end up in a gift shop, buying a cute souvenir filled with inspiration that makes everything you're going through come full circle and just make sense for a minute.

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Here's to being NOT well-behaved and having your voice heard.  

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, publisher, mom, and not well-behaved woman, living in St. Louis, MO. The photo to the left is of her and her daughter in Memphis, TN, in the beginning of April. To find out more about Margo, visit https://www.margoldill.com



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