Daughter of Lorraine Motel’s owners recalls day MLK died

Daughter of Lorraine Motel’s owners recalls day MLK died

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - On Wednesday, Memphis will mark the 50th anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death.

When Dr. King was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, a movement lost its leader.

Most people know the Lorraine Motel as the place where Dr. King was killed, but for the family that owned the motel, the Lorraine was so much more. Now, that rich history is being recognized by others.

Memories from the past remain top of mind for Carolyn and Charles Champion.

Carolyn Bailey Champion is the daughter of Walter and Lorrie Bailey, the former owners of the Lorraine Motel.

"I always said the Lorraine back in the day was like the bed and breakfast of today," Carolyn said.

Carolyn remembers watching her parents run and operate the motel, which was frequented by prominent African Americans like Jackie Robinson and civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"We wanted things better. We were so happy that we were able to be a part of the upkeep of the people as they came into Memphis," Carolyn said.

In 1968, Carolyn was 33 years old. On April 4, she received a frantic phone call from her mother.

"She said, 'Oh Carolyn, Dr. King just got shot,'" Carolyn recalled.

In the midst of the chaos following Dr. King's shooting death, her mother would suffer a stroke.

"They had gone and broken into the apartment and taken her to the hospital," Carolyn said.

Lorrie Bailey never regained consciousness and passed away days later.

Now 50 years later, Walter and Lorrie Bailey are being recognized for their contributions as business owners in a new exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum.

"In 50 years, recognition had not been given to the family of the hotel," Carolyn said.

She is glad the memories of her parents and Dr. King are being kept alive.

The new exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum will open up on April 4.

It depicts the legacy of Dr. King and key contributions of other key players in the Civil Rights Movement.

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