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The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Now the Site of the National Civil Rights Museum,
to Receive Up to 1,000 Hours of Volunteer Labor from Hampton Hotels'
Employees Towards Refurbishment Project
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Memphis, Tenn., March 25 – Almost 40 years ago to this day, the legendary civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee while standing on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel – now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum. Today, with the help of Hampton® Hotels’ Save-A-Landmark® program and legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson, this illustrious museum and infamous setting in American history will receive a makeover.

The restoration effort – the largest in the program’s nine-year history – will call on more than 100 Hampton Hotel volunteers from the area who’ll work alongside Jackson to restore four exhibition rooms by replacing wallpaper, repainting walls, repairing displays and mending electrical components; renovating the exterior walkways and facade, and upgrading the surrounding landscape. The program plans to complete most of the project by the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s untimely passing on April 4, 1968.  Hampton will contribute more than 1,000 volunteer hours towards reviving this national landmark.
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The aftershock of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 would plunge the Lorraine Motel, a small minority-owned business in the south-end of downtown Memphis, into a long and steep decline. The motel’s owner, Walter Lane Bailey kept a couple of rooms as a shrine to Dr. King and to Bailey’s wife, Lorraine, who died of a brain hemorrhage several hours after King was shot. 

By 1982, the Lorraine Motel was a foreclosed property. A group of prominent Memphians, concerned that this historic site would be destroyed through continued neglect and indifference, formed the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation to save the Lorraine. Using a design report by a former Smithsonian Institution, Benjamin Lawless, the Foundation started seeking funding for the nations’s first comprehensive exhibit chronicling America’s civil rights movement. 

The Foundation raised $10,000, which brought a short option to buy the Lorraine; however, members of the Foundation were unable to raise the full contract price of $250,000. Fortunately, in December 1982, the Foundation was able to purchase the Lorraine at auction for $144,000. Of that amount, $69,000 came from the fundraising efforts of Foundation members. In addition, $25,000 was donated by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and $10,000 was donated by Lucky Hearts Cosmetics, a business located across the street from the Lorraine. The remaining $50,000 was loaned by Tri-State Bank and secured jointly by AFSCME and Lucky Hearts. 

With vital support from the City of Memphis, Shelby County, and the State of Tennessee, nearly $ 9 million dollars were raised to create and construct a civil rights center within the Lorraine Motel designed to help visitors better understand the history and lessons of the American Civil Rights Movement. 

The Lorraine Civil Rights Foundation held an official groundbreaking in 1987 and on September 28, 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum opened its doors to visitors. http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/

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The refurbishment of the National Civil Rights Museum will kick off Hampton’s 2008 campaign – aptly named “Landmark Legends” – devoted to restoring sites honoring prominent Americans, such as Amelia Earhart’s Birthplace and Museum, the Barnum Museum, and the Poe Museum. The list of legendary figures was generated from a nationwide survey, conducted by Hampton Hotels, to celebrate the accomplishments of those Americans who have inspired change, overcome adversity and made a difference.

“There was no question that Dr. King should be the first Legend honored by the program, and there was no better setting to honor his influence on the world than the Civil Rights Museum,” said Judy Christa-Cathey, vice president of brand marketing for Hampton Hotels. “Dr. King’s legacy as one of America’s most influential leaders of positive change should never be forgotten. Our goal is to help organizations like the National Civil Rights Museum continue educating, inspiring and motivating people for years to come.”

Samuel L. Jackson, himself an usher at Martin Luther King’s funeral stated, “The National Civil Rights Museum is an important landmark in American history.  I’m looking forward to working alongside the volunteers at Hampton Hotels and their Save-A-Landmark program in restoring the grounds.” 
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Hampton Hotel volunteers Julie Ingebrigtson (left) and Sharon Fells polish the window that looks into the room where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. slept at the Lorraine Motel, which is now the National Civil Rights Museum, in Memphis, TN, Mon., March 24, 2008. More than 100 volunteers from Hampton Hotels' Save-A-Landmark program will work together to restore the Museum in preparation for the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's untimely death. (Photo by Robin Weiner)
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Those looking to discover other locations devoted to historic individuals – or to possibly nominate their own “Landmark Legend” – can visit the Save-A-Landmark site at www.hamptonlandmarks.com and click on “submit a landmark” to enter a nomination for a legendary landmark. Below is just a sample of “heroic” landmarks already included in the program’s online database.
  • Jesse Owens Memorial Park, Danville, Ala.: This park honors Olympic great Jesse Owens, an Oakville native who won four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, the first American and the second athlete in history to win four gold medals. 
  • Jackie Robinson Birthplace, Cairo, Ga.: Born here on January 31, 1919 to sharecroppers and enslaved grandparents on what was once a plantation, Jackie Robinson – the first African-American major league baseball player – was just two years old when his mother packed up Jackie and his four siblings, hopped on a train and headed to California.
  • Hellen Keller Birthplace, Tuscumbia, Ala.: This small birthplace cottage was the site of the remarkable story of Helen Keller, the woman who was struck blind and deaf after becoming ill around the age of two. The home, called Ivy Green, eventually became the living quarters for Helen and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, whose huge teaching strides with Helen began by simply spelling out the word "water" in Helen’s hand as she pumped water over it. 
  • Celia Cruz and Freedom Tower, Miami, Fla.: The Cuban songstress Celia Cruz, “the Queen of Salsa,” performed at Freedom Tower during a 2001 fundraiser to turn the site into a museum, and was later brought to the tower after her death so tens of thousands of mourners could pay their last respects to the legendary singer. Known as the Ellis Island of the Cuban community, Freedom Tower is where immigration officials processed more than 500,000 Cubans who fled the country in the 1960s. 
Hampton’s Save-A-Landmark program is continuing its ninth year preserving historical, fun and cultural landmarks, from the Carousel Gardens in New Orleans, La. to the historical National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, Mass.  During this time, the program has helped research landmarks in need, promoted landmark sites and their importance, facilitated thousands of volunteer hours, donated several tons of supplies and worked with matching grants — all at an investment of more than $2.5 million. Uniting its hotels together in the communities they serve, Hampton employee-volunteers work hand-in-hand on the landmarks while Hampton provides the financial support to refurbish selected sites.

Landmark nominations have been a key element of the Save-A-Landmark program’s success since its inception in 2000, with thousands of nominations provided by the public. Submissions can be made online at www.hamptonlandmarks.com or by mailing recommendations c/o Save-A-Landmark to 8730 Sunset Blvd, 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

About Hampton Hotels
Hampton, which includes Hampton Inn, Hampton by Hilton and Hampton Inn & Suites hotels, is a mid-priced leader in the lodging segment.  Hampton is part of Hilton Hotels Corporation, the leading global hospitality company, with more than 3,000 hotels and 500,000 rooms in 78 countries and territories, including 105,000 team members worldwide.  The company owns, manages or franchises a hotel portfolio of some of the best known and highly regarded brands, including Hilton®, Conrad®, Doubletree®, Embassy Suites Hotels®, Hampton Inn®, Hampton Inn & Suites®, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hilton Grand Vacations®, Homewood Suites by Hilton® and The Waldorf=Astoria Collection®. The Hilton Family of Hotels adheres to founder Conrad Hilton’s philosophy that, “It has been, and continues to be, our responsibility to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.”  The company put a name to its unique brand of service that has made it the best known and most highly regarded hotel company:  be hospitable®.    The philosophy is shared by all brands in the Hilton Family of Hotels, and is the inspiration for its overarching message of kindness and generosity.  Hilton Hotels Corporation’s sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Team will extend through the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, and includes the 2008 U.S. Paralympic Team(s) and the 2007 U.S. Pan-Am Team.  For more information about our company, please visit www.hiltonworldwide.com, and to learn more about our be hospitable philosophy, please visit www.behospitable.com.

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Contact:

Charmaine Easie-Samuels
   Hampton Brand Communications
   901-374-5534
www.hiltonworldwide.com

 

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