Speed Reads

remembering dr. king

Woman whose parents owned motel where MLK was killed recalls that day

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a woman whose parents owned the Memphis motel where he was shot and killed remembers the day vividly.

Carolyn Bailey Champion told WMC Action News 5 that her parents, Walter and Lorrie Bailey, often welcomed such luminaries as King and Jackie Robinson to the Lorraine Motel. "We wanted things better," she said. "We were so happy that we were able to be a part of the upkeep of the people as they came into Memphis."

Champion, 83, said her mother called her and told her the news of King's death. "She said, 'Oh Carolyn, Dr. King just got shot,'" Champion remembered. The bad news didn't end there — later that day, Lorrie Bailey had a stroke, and died just a few days later. Champion's parents will be featured in a new exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum that will open on Wednesday, and their daughter is glad they are being acknowledged. "In 50 years, recognition had not been given to the family of the hotel," she said.