JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – There is a rotunda, or a central circular gallery, in the middle of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum that all of the other distinct galleries, with their individual slices of time or place in the story of the progression of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, all open from.
Usually, there is quiet reflective music playing here. The rotunda has an ethereal feel, and it is not insignificant that the individual galleries feed to and from this one central point. You get to them only through here.
To move from one gallery to another, you must pass through a bath of serenity. You move through the gallery about the Jim Crow era, with its role call of the names of the victims of lynchings, and the conspicuous display of blatant segregation that was Mississippi from the time of Reconstruction. Then you move to the gallery of the turbulent 1960s, with the sit-ins and jailings. In between, you always have to come back into the light and peace of the central gallery.
Occasionally, one of the anthems of the Civil Rights Movement is interjected into with the quiet music, not only as just an audible artifact of the era, but it jolts the visitors back to reality for a few minutes. The reality is that the relative peace and harmony that we have in society today did not come without a price. And as your eye is drawn upward into the upper reaches of the gallery, you see the faces of some of those who paid dearly for the luxury that we who are here today.
Just as the rotunda is the focal point of the museum, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, is the focal point the Civil Rights Movement in America.
Passing from gallery to gallery in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, you see the influence of Dr. King. The faces of people who showed up and stayed when faced with indifference, the insults, injury and death for a goal. The goal is represented by the central gallery. Peace and rest: the goal that all the other galleries lead to.