The National Civil Rights Museum's Marketing Communications Manager, Connie Dyson describes The Lorraine Motel as a "Refuge during Jim Crow.
"When you were traveling, there were only specific places where African Americans could go," she says. "In Memphis, the Loraine was that place for people of importance like Jackie Robinson, B.B. King, Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway. They all stayed there when they were here in town to record or perform on Beale Street.
"Booker T & the MGs stayed here and played jam sessions here at the motel," Dyson says, describing life at the Lorraine before everything changed following MLK's assassination. "They say Wilson Pickett wrote 'In the Midnight Hour' here. And Eddie Floyd's 'Knock on Wood' was written here at the Lorraine." This is how Dyson sets up A Night at the Lorraine, a fund-raiser for the museum. It's a time machine of an event created to transport guests to the mid-20th century and show them what the Lorraine meant, not just to travelers, but to the African-American community generally.
"It was one of those places that people came to congregate for a night on the town," Dyson says. Night at the Lorraine is an indoor and outdoor event with retro-themed music and decor. There will be a temporary photo exhibition, catered food, swag bags, a silent auction, valet parking, and music and dancing indoors and out.
"It's truly a celebration," Dyson says.