History Capsule: 1968 Cadillac & 1959 Dodge – From A Moment In American History

A little further down Mulberry Street from my last post sit these two cars.


You’re probably wondering what kind of gosh-durned cotton-pickin’ fool would leave a perfectly good Cadillac out in the weather, at the Curbside? Shouldn’t it deserve a nice garage at its age?

59 dodge

The answer is that they are at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. The wreath is where Dr. King was standing when he was shot on April 4, 1968. He had flown in from Atlanta on Eastern and borrowed a Cadillac.

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They are both there to re-create this classic photo of the aftermath.  A single shot from across the street with a .30-06 rifle ended Dr. King’s life, landing with enough force to rip the tie off his body.

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While I haven’t been inside the museum since it was renovated(one has to watch the budget), it does hold other automotive treasurers, like this replica of the bus that Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of (the actual bus resides in the Henry Ford Museum).

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A re-creation of a firebombed bus. Hopefully, the folks up in Nashville won’t mind me using this shot.

Dr. King had come to Memphis to support striking African-American sanitation workers, who were being paid less than European-Americans, which is why the garbage truck is on display.


And finally, another replica–that of James Earl Ray’s car–if you want to start an animated discussion here, bring up whether he was the person who fired the shot. It is still Mustang week, isn’t it?