The planned renovations of the National Civil Rights Museum mark the next chapter in its life, speakers at the annual Freedom Awards in Memphis said Saturday.
The museum, housed in the Memphis motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, is set to begin an extensive renovation as it marks its 20th anniversary.
"It sort of marks the end of two decades of hard work," said museum President Eleanor Robertson. "But it also marks the beginning of a future that is going to be tremendously bright, with the renovations that we've got planned."
Saturday's awards at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts drew a crowd of several hundred, including veterans of the civil rights movement and honored actress Cicely Tyson, rapper Usher and basketball luminaries Bill Russell and Alonzo Mourning.
The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal said the museum has honored the likes of President Clinton, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama with its Freedom Awards in the past.
"I think the presence of the celebrities, and the support and the significance of the awards really suggests that we're not just national, either," Robertson said. "We're actually global."