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IT WAS A NATIONAL MOVEMENT. NOW IT’S A NATIONAL MONUMENT. The Civil Rights Movement that helped galvanize the nation is now being recognized on a national level. But the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument does more than just acknowledge where we’ve been. It offers visitors a chance to celebrate where we’re going. Book your next tour in a place rich with history. Book your next tour in Birmingham. inbirmingham.com | # INB irmingham | 800 - 458 - 8085
Come curious. Leave courageous. Immersive. Imaginative. Inspiring visitors of all ages. Be one of the first to experience the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History, two of our nationâ€™s newest museums. Plan your visit now. For group rates and tickets: museumofmshistory.com mscivilrightsmuseum.com
Operated by the MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY
A Civil Rights Timeline
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Introducing the U.S. Civil Rights Trail T H E S E S I T E S A R E H A L L OW E D G R O U N D I N C I V I L R I G H T S H I S T O RY.
The Story Continues
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THESE GALLERIES HONOR CIVIL RIGHTS HEROES AND VISIONARIES.
ON THE COVER:
3500 PIEDMONT RD. NE, STE. 210 ATLANTA, GA 30305 404-231-1790 WWW.TRAVELSOUTHUSA.COM
“Rosa Parks Rides” by Alabama artist P.J. Lewis
NICHE TRAVEL PUBLISHERS 301 EAST HIGH STREET LEXINGTON, KY 40507 888-253-0455 WWW.GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM
1964 Civil Rights March on Frankfort, KY
Muhammad Ali wasn’t the only fighter from Kentucky. Kentucky’s African American history is filled with example after example of unbridled courage – from the 10,000 African American Civil War soldiers who learned how to fight for their freedom at Camp Nelson to the countless protestors who held hunger strikes and marches across the state in the 1960s to demand equal rights. Now, you can take a remarkable journey that lets you explore those moments and trace the steps of the men and women who made our commonwealth great. On the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, explore the birthplace of visionary Whitney M. Young Jr. in Simpsonville. Imagine what it was like to be a freedom fighter on Louisville’s Downtown Civil Rights Trail. And experience Berea College’s hallowed Lincoln Hall where students stood up for their rights with a 20-hour sit-in. Get inspired at KYCivilrights.com.
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Let Freedom Sing.
From Second Saturday performances by the Albany Civil Rights Institute Freedom Singers to the newly re-designated Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park in Atlanta, Georgia landmarks share the stories of the voices of the civil rights movement. For itinerary ideas and resources, visit ExploreGeorgia.org/Groups.
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U.S. Civil Rights Trail debuts
BY BR I A N JEW ELL
ore than 65 years after it began, one of the most powerful social and political movements in American history is getting new recognition on the national stage. In January, directors of 12 Southern state travel offices unveiled the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks where activists challenged racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. The trail encompasses 100 sites stretching from Kansas to Louisiana, Virginia and Georgia. Though many of these sites have long been recognized for their historical significance, this effort marks the first time such a large collection has been identified and organized for travelers to discover. “It’s really the first time that we’ve had all of the states that were involved in the civil rights movement working together to present all our sites and make it easy for visitors to discover the full picture of the movement through the places where it happened,” said Kevin
By Art Meripol, courtesy U.S. Civil Rights Trail THE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. MEMORIAL IN WASHINGTON, D.C., PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE COUNTRY’S MOST INFLUENTIAL CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER.
Langston, deputy commissioner of tourism development for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Places are powerful, and experiencing a place where history was made is a really immersive experience. Being there makes it easy to relate to history on a personal level.”
History Happened Here
Many of the stops on the trail are important places where events that grabbed national attention and propelled the cause of civil rights took place. In Alabama, these include Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park, the site of numerous marches and demonstrations, and the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where violence erupted in a march that became known as Bloody Sunday. Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was the site of a tense
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Alabama Civil Rights Trail app to get the complete picture of the Civil Rights Movement. Learn about all of the people, cities and events that changed American history forever. Easy navigation makes this app the perfect tool for any generation to learn about one of the most important times in American history.
Alabama – Where the dream began. Martin Luther King Jr. is deeply connected to events in Alabama that forever changed American history. In 1963, King made it clear that Alabama and its citizens would be significant partners in his dream of racial equality. In 1965, following actions that shocked the nation on Bloody Sunday, King successfully led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge out of Selma toward Montgomery. It was a seminal act that, in part, led to passage of the Voting Rights Act. Today, you can walk in the footsteps of those who made history. Cross the historic bridge in Selma. Visit Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. King organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott and launched the Civil Rights Movement. Then, head to the city where he wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and tour the inspiring Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Plan your trip and celebrate the Civil Rights Movement in heritage-rich Alabama.
Visit www.Alabama.Travel to learn more about these historical events and how you can experience their legacy today.
integration standoff in 1957 and is also on the trail. Several sites related to Martin Luther King Jr. are as well, including his first church in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was assassinated. Grouping significant civil rights landmarks together helps the public to understand and discover the movement, including some lesser-known sites that don’t get much national visibility. “Many of these 100 sites are essentially silos within their communities,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department and one the chief visionaries behind the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. “What we are doing is putting a spotlight on these sites, most of which don’t have any kind of marketing budget. The idea is to give them greater visibility and generate more foot traffic to these churches, schools and museums.” Organizers also hope the trail will make it easier for travelers to plan itineraries that include visits to various civil rights sites in multiple Southern states. “If someone is inclined to go to Memphis and see the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. died, and they see this map and learn that there’s a civil rights trail, they’ll be inclined to visit other sites in Tennessee, come over to Arkansas or go to one of the other sites in the South,” said Jim Dailey, tourism director for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. In addition to the historic sites, the trail also features some of the museums that were created to showcase stories and artifacts from the civil rights movement. These include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama; the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta; the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, recently opened in Jackson; and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the newest addition to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
A Multiyear Effort
Work on the Civil Rights Trail began several years ago when Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, encouraged American historians to begin cataloging the sites of important civil rights events throughout the country. Since many of those events took place in Alabama, Sentell and the Alabama Tourism Department took up the call and contacted faculty members at Georgia State University with expertise in civil rights history to help get the project started.
Travelers planning a trip on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail can find all the latest news about civil rights sites and events at:
THE INTERNATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS CENTER AND MUSEUM IN GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, PRESERVES THE SITE OF THE FAMOUS WOOLWORTH’S LUNCH COUNTER SIT-INS. By Art Meripol, courtesy U.S. Civil Rights Trail
“After about six months, they came back and said they had found 60 major sites,” Sentell said. “Nobody had done an inventory of these civil rights landmarks. So I thought, let’s take this information and provide it to the Southern tourism directors and create a civil rights trail.” The state tourism directors then identified another 40 lesser-known sites from their areas to include on the trail. Once the list was compiled, the trail was born, and organizers got to work producing a rack card and a website, www.civilrightstrail.com, that would introduce travelers to the stories found throughout these destinations. The website went public over Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and received immediate interest. “We had 25,000 visitors to the site in the first 48 hours of being live, which is an exciting response,” Sentell said. “The listings for most of the major landmarks received between 1,000 and 2,000 page views.” The news also garnered coverage in numerous major media outlets nationwide, and a documentary film featuring many of the major sites and stories from people involved in the events there began airing on television in February. In addition to positive media coverage, trail organizers report great interest from the travel trade, both in the United States and abroad, with tour companies inquiring about planning new itineraries based on the trail. “We rolled this out last fall at World Travel Market in London and had some great interest from operators there,” Langston said. “We’re seeing a number of operators putting tours together. They’re saying it’s something new and relevant right now. And the domestic audience can relate to the story even more than the international audience can.” Given the current social and political climate in the United States, this trail highlighting the amazing stories of the civil rights movement is proving to be more than just a historical or tourism project. “In the last six months, discussion about civil and human rights has ramped up substantially because of the political rhetoric in the country,” Sentell said. “It has made this topic much more relevant than we could have expected when we started this.”
EVERY SECOND SATURDAY EACH MONTH, the Albany Civil Rights Institute Freedom Singers narrate Albany Movement stories with dynamic testimony and emotionally-charged performances.
V IS I T T H E C I TY W H E R E VOIC E S
ELEVATED A MOVEMENT. During the Albany Movement, thousands of citizens attracted nationwide attention in the first mass movement in the modern civil rights era with the goal of desegregation of an entire community. When you visit the Albany Civil Rights Movement Museum, you’ll hear the stories, feel the songs and see the people who helped change the course of history. And gave momentum to a movement. Learn more about why Albany, GA is an important stop on the Civil Rights Trail by visiting AlbanyGACivilRights.com.
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THE CENTER FOR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS IS A DISTINCTIVE PART OF THE ATLANTA CITYSCAPE.
Beautiful museums depict unvarnished events
BY R ACHEL C A RTER
By Gene Phillips, courtesy Center for Civil and Human Rights
t a two-sided Coca-Cola machine, white customers plunked their coins in on one side while black patrons paid more on the “colored” side — for the same soda from the same machine. This exhibit at a civil rights museum in North Carolina helps visitors personalize the injustices of the Jim Crow era and appreciate the resolve of civil rights activists who fought to overcome them. Whether exhibits include a Ku Klux Klan robe, a Montgomery city bus or rubble from a church bombing, civil rights museums seek to not only tell the history of slavery, segregation and the civil rights movement, but also put that history in the context of contemporary race relations and the modern struggle for social justice. These prominent museums are all important stops on CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA
DIORAMAS AT TROY UNIVERSITY’S ROSA PARKS MUSEUM DEPICT SCENES OF THE JIM CROW ERA.
Many people don’t realize that Rosa Parks was seated — legally — in the “colored section” when she was asked to give up her seat on the Montgomery city bus for a white man. Guests to the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University in Montgomery will see a 1955 bus from the city’s fleet. Though it’s not the one on which Parks was riding December 1, 1955, when she was arrested, it’s where visitors today can watch a re-enactment film play through the bus windows to learn about what happened that day. The immersive exhibit is designed to provide an experience: “You even hear sirens when the police come,” said museum director Felicia Bell. The bus is one of the primary exhibits that helps the museum tell the story of what happened that day and how Parks’ arrest helped spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott. “We want to get her off the bus and allow visitors to think critically about her and her life of activism,” Bell said. “She was involved Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in many causes.” Visitors to the museum will also see a ATLANTA 1955 “rolling church” station wagon, a vehicle churches used to transport black passengers Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, Coretta Scott King, established the during the boycott. Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in June In the children’s wing, guests experience 1968, three months after her husband was assassinated. the Cleveland Avenue Time Machine, a largerNow, 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder and the center’s than-life bus simulator that transports visitors founding, visitors can learn about the six principles of nonviolence, read back to the “separate but equal” Supreme King’s words and hear them from above. Audio recently added throughout Court decision and the Jim Crow era. the campus lets visitors hear King’s voice and learn about his life, not only as a renowned civil rights leader, but also as a human, a man who WWW.TROY.EDU/ROSAPARKS loved to swim and whose last car, a 1967 Chevy Impala, still sits in the garage of his home today. The King Center has been updating both aesthetics and technology and just completed a renovation of the iconic reflecting pool where the Kings are entombed side by side in a white crypt. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. “We have seen a surge of people coming from all over the Earth to CENTER FOR NONVIOLENT just sit in front of that pool to pray and contemplate,” said Carmen Luisa Coya-van Duijn, director of communications. Video monitors were added in Freedom Hall so guests can see photos and watch clips of King’s speeches and interviews. Center leaders also plan to renovate and reopen the chapel and add digital screens along the outdoor Freedom Walkway. Groups can arrange special nonviolence training programs like those used to train protestors during the movement. “We give them the tools and the strategy and the mind-set and the philosophy behind it,” Coya-van Duijn said.
WWW.THEKINGCENTER.ORG By James Duckworth, courtesy ACVB
International Civil Rights Center and Museum
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
MUSEUM AT TROY
When visitors to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, arrive at the actual lunch counter where the first prominent sit-ins began, “it’s like they’re in a sacred place,” said CEO John Swaine. The center opened in 2010, 50 years after four students began sit-in protests at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro. The former department store building was slated for demolition in the early 1990s, but local leaders Melvin “Skip” Alston and Earl Jones “understood what had taken place here, and they understood how profound that action was,” so they decided to save the property and turn it into the museum, Swaine said. The sit-ins, which lasted from February 1 to July 25, 1960, spurred other nonviolent protests around the country. The museum’s 16 galleries focus on the Greensboro demonstrations, then expand to explore the American civil rights movement more broadly as well as nonviolent actions around the world. The Hall of Shame reminds visitors “of what it was truly like for African-Americans in the 1900s through the late ’60s: the bombings, the hangings, the body burnings,” Swaine said. Guests will also experience what Jim Crow was like at local movie theaters, hospitals — even a reproduction train station waiting area. A two-sided Coca-Cola vending machine has one side for whites and another for blacks, who paid more for the “same Coke coming out from the same machine,” he said. The museum is raising funds for four new exhibits about the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, also known as the “citizenship amendment,” that will bookend the current exhibits.
Courtesy Rosa Parks Museum
“I’d see the [school] bus pass every day … But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world.” — ROSA PA R KS A CHILDHOOD MEMORY
CIVIL RIGHTS CENTER
PROTESTORS HELD SIT-INS AT THIS LUNCH COUNTER IN GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, WHICH IS NOW PART OF THE INTERNATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM. Courtesy ICRCM
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened in December in Jackson, Mississippi, and “the reception has been absolutely phenomenal,” said museum director Pamela D.C. Junior. Its eight galleries focus on the years 1945 to 1976, when Mississippi was on the front lines of the civil rights movement. Early galleries explore the struggle for freedom by Mississippi slaves and their efforts to establish strong communities as freed citizens. From there, visitors step into the central rotunda, where the dramatic, soaring sculpture “This Little Light of Mine” changes color as songs sung during the civil rights movement play. In Gallery Four, people learn how the end of World War II helped Courtesy MS Civil Rights Museum spark the civil rights movement because black veterans “got better treatment being overseas than they did when they came home,” Junior said. In the “Separate but Not Equal” exhibit, a schoolroom split down the middle shows the inequities in education: nice desks for white students, wooden benches for black students. National Center for Civil and Human Rights Around the corner, the Bryant Grocery doors Emmett Till walked through are on display. ATLANTA Visitors also learn about Freedom Riders; voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who led Mississippi’s Freedom Summer; and the The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta isn’t a museum; Black Empowerment movement. Throughout it’s a “360-degree sensory experience where you will see, hear and feel the museum, guests will find small theaters what it would have been like to be part of these experiences,” said playing films that tie into each exhibit. Kristie Raymer, vice president of marketing and sales for the National The final gallery “puts it back on the Center for Civil and Human Rights. patron” by asking them to leave quotes and Visitors can sit at the lunch counter display and put on headphonesanswer questions about what they can do in through which they will hear people yelling or whispering racial slurs their own communities. The final quote is as the chairs lurch and buck beneath them. from Oseola McCarty, a washerwoman and “It really is a life-changing experience,” Raymer said. “And not philanthropist who said, “If you want to be only did it happen, it happened for four hours, not a minute and a half.” proud of yourself, you have got to do things The re-enactment of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom you can be proud of.” features excerpts of chants, songs and speeches. In front of them, guests HTTPS://MCRM.MDAH.MS.GOV see the result — the peaceful protest; behind them are “all the components that went into executing that one day,” Raymer said. The center also explores global human rights. In the “Who Like Me” exhibit, visitors choose a noun, such as “female,” “activist” or “artist,” and then look in a mirror and see their face reflected in the face of a person whose human rights have been violated. The center will also rotate displays of its Martin Luther King Jr. papers and memorabilia throughout the year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his assassination. In addition to guided group tours, the center can arrange diversity and inclusion training programs.
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By Dustin Chambers, courtesy CCHR
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA Many visitors to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama are not only seeking to understand the lessons of the civil rights movement; many are also “seeking relevance of what’s going on in the contemporary context,” said president and CEO Andrea Taylor. The institute is across the street from both Kelly Ingram Park, which served as a large-scale staging ground for civil rights protests and demonstrations, and the 16th Street Baptist Church, which the Ku Klux Klan bombed in September 1963, an attack that killed four girls. The institute’s five galleries address the broader story of the civil rights movement, but the detail centers on what happened in Birmingham. The permanent exhibit includes the doors and bars of the Birmingham jail cell where King wrote his famous “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” Two powerful moments for visitors are when they view the replica of the Freedom Rider bus that was bombed in the nearby city of Anniston and an actual KKK robe, “which is a very haunting experience,” Taylor said. Some guests weep at the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church exhibit, which includes rubble from the church and pieces of stainedglass windows. “It’s unfathomable that hate would rise to the level where people would think they would have to attack innocent children,” she said.
BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS
Courtesy Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
In 1957, the world watched as Little Rock Central High School became the focal point for the integration of public schools and the Civil Rights movement. Today, its National Historic Site Visitor Center welcomes thousands, and the school remains an icon of American history.
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site > Learn more at LittleRock.com, CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM NPS.gov or CivilRightTrail.com.
16TH STREET BAPTIST CHURCH BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA
Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley: Their faces are memorialized in the bronze statue “Four Spirits” across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where the girls were killed September 15, 1963. They were wearing their Sunday best and preparing to lead the congregation’s 11 a.m. adult service when the Ku Klux Klan bombed the building. The KKK targeted the church because it had become a hub for the community’s civil rights mass meetings and rallies in the early 1960s. The girls’ murders became a tragic rallying cry for the civil rights movement. Ever since its founding in 1873 as the first black church in Birmingham, the 16th Street Baptist Church has played a major role in the city’s black community, and its prominence and downtown location across from Kelly Ingram Park made it a natural gathering spot for organizers. The church’s recognizable brick building, with its twin domed towers, was completed in 1911 and is open for tours. Guided tours last about an hour and are available Tuesdays through Fridays and by appointment on Saturdays. Groups should schedule tours in advance. WWW.16THSTREETBAPTIST.ORG
A Proud Part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Promoting social justice and human rights
‘‘I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the right to vote.”
— JOHN LEW IS U.S. REPRE SENTATIVE
The Anne Frank Tree Installation in the Clinton Center Park
Plan your visit today at ClintonPresidentialCenter.org 22
#ClintonCenter Little Rock, AR • (501) 374-4242
National Voting Rights Museum and Institute SELMA, ALABAMA The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Alabama, sits at the foot of the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge, where peaceful protestors marching for voting rights were beaten on March 7, 1965, also known as Bloody Sunday. The museum’s exhibits highlight memorabilia, photos and artifacts from Selma’s past — from before the Reconstruction Era through President Barack Obama’s candidacy — and its role in efforts to register black voters in the South. As images of protestors being violently beaten on Bloody Sunday spread across the nation, thousands of supporters flocked to Selma, where two weeks later, Martin Luther King Jr. successfully led the five-day march to the Capitol in Montgomery. The Selma marches played a pivotal role in the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that outlawed discriminatory voting policies and practices. Throughout the museum, visitors will see footprint casts of “foot soldiers” who marched and protested. Other exhibits include a women’s suffrage gallery, a voting booth machine and a re-created jail cell sharing the stories of demonstrators who were arrested and imprisoned. WWW.NVRMI.COM
NATIONAL VOTING RIGHTS MUSEUM From cafés and nightclubs, to festivals and front porches, discover the legendary soundtrack of Baton Rouge at www.visitbatonrouge.com By Art Meripol, courtesy U.S. Civil Rights Trail
Photo by Baton Rouge Blues Festival, Jordan Hefler
National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, wraps around the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The museum held its grand reopening ceremony 46 years later following a $27-million renovation of its exhibits that kept iconic elements and artifacts, such as a sit-in counter, a Freedom Rider bus and a Memphis Sanitation truck, but updated them with interactive video, audio and touch screens. “You get pulled into the history and the stories being told,” said Faith Morris, chief marketing and external affairs officer. Visitors can crouch down in a slave ship and hear slaves chanting and moaning, listen to the music of the Black Power/Black Pride era and watch history-makers tell their stories in the “Acts of Courage” videos. The Montgomery city bus isn’t new, but the museum added life-size statues of women walking to illustrate how the boycott “almost broke the bus system,” Morris said. The “I Am a Man” exhibit tells how King came to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. The two rooms where King would usually stay “were not changed; those are preserved,” Morris said. Guests can see into the rooms and through to the balcony where he was shot. “When they come to the King rooms, it’s an emotional experience,” she said. WWW.CIVILRIGHTSMUSEUM.ORG
THE NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM MARKS THE SITE WHERE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAS KILLED IN MEMPHIS.
By Troy Glasgow, courtesy Memphis CVB
NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM “Now let me say that I’m still convinced that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity.” — M A RTIN LU THER K ING JR . 1966 WARE LECTURE HOLLY WOOD, FLORIDA
HERITAGE Steeped in rich, colonial history, Harpers Ferry is a quaint retreat bursting with small town charm. Start planning your getaway today at GoToWV.com.
GoToWV.com #AlmostHeaven CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM 25
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THE EDMUND PETTUS BRIDGE IN SELMA, ALABAMA, WAS THE SITE OF THE BLOODY SUNDAY PROTEST IN 1965.
These sites remember what America can never forget
BY R ACHEL C A RTER
t the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., soaring Doric columns flank the entrance to the weighty marble statue of a solemn, seated President Abraham Lincoln. On the side of a back road in a backwater on the Mississippi Delta, a crumbling, collapsing, vine-clad building is where a teenage boy went to buy candy and, as a result, was brutally murdered. Whether itâ€™s a grand monument or the remnants of a bygone building, or a current school, a former motel or an arching bridge, these sites have witnessed some of the most heartrending, inspiring and galvanizing moments in civil rights history and of the American civil rights movement.
Courtesy Dallas Co. COCTI
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS
LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
When the Little Rock Nine tried to enter the previously all-white NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 4, 1957, they were met by a mob of angry segregationists, crowds of press and National Guard troops ordered by the governor to keep them out. By the end of the month, the same nine students were once again met by National Guard troops, this time under the order of President Dwight Eisenhower to protect them as they entered the school. The Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site marked the 60th anniversary of the integration in September 2017 with eight surviving Little Rock Nine students in attendance. Many visitors don’t realize that the National Historic Site is still an active school and that access to the building is limited, said chief of interpretation David Kilton. However, the site also has a visitors center, Courtesy Little Rock CVB a commemorative garden and a historically preserved Mobil gas station where the press called in their stories on the pay phone. The site is working with the neighboring church to install a bench in the same spot Emmett Till Marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail where student Elizabeth Eckford sat, alone, MONEY, MISSISSIPPI surrounded by press, which drew the attention of the segregationists. On the corner is Of all the markers on the Mississippi Freedom Trail, which was crePonder’s Drug Store, where she “tried to seek ated in 2011, the Emmett Till marker in Money, Mississippi, probably shelter from the crowd that day and was turned draws the most visitors. The teenager’s brutal and senseless murder in away,” he said. 1955 shocked not only America but also the world as media spread the Groups should arrange guided tours at least news of his death around the globe. two weeks in advance, and “rangers will help “The lynching of Emmett Till helped to really galvanize the civil guests walk in those footsteps and see that rights movement,” said Leslie-Burl McLemore, Mississippi Freedom story,” Kilton said. Tours are generally availTrail Task Force chairman. “It helped to put civil rights on the forefront able at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., and can include the of the American dialogue. It provided a sense of unity and a sense of foyer, the auditorium and the cafeteria if the organization that hadn’t been present before.” school is open. There isn’t much at the site — Bryant Grocery is a crumbling, vine-covered building — but the marker tells Till’s story, which still WWW.NPS.GOV/CHSC resonates with visitors. Till lived in Chicago and was visiting family in August 1955 when he went to Bryant Grocery to buy candy. Shopkeeper Carolyn Bryant claimed that Till flirted with her. Several nights later, Bryant’s husband EMMETT TILL and his half brother kidnapped Till, beat and mutilated him, shot him in the head and sunk his body in the Tallahatchie River. In a book published in 2017, Bryant admitted her claims were false. Till’s mother demanded a public funeral with an open casket so the world could see what had been done to her son. His killers were tried for murder and acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury, but the two men later confessed in a tell-all magazine article. After vandals destroyed Till’s marker in summer 2017, the state replaced it and held a rededication ceremony. But the fact that it was targeted “points out how much further we have to go and how much more work we need to do in terms of ridding ourselves of racism and teaching American history,” McLemore said.
Courtesy Mississippi Freedom Trail
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON PARTICIPATES IN A CELEBRATION OF THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF INTEGRATION AT CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL.
A STATUE COMMEMORATES THE BRAVERY OF THE LITTLE ROCK NINE. Courtesy Little Rock CVB
Courtesy Little Rock CVB
“They moved closer and closer … Somebody started yelling … I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd — someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a — ELIZA BETH ECK FOR D MEMBER, LIT TLE ROCK NINE
kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.”
the LITTLE ROCK NINE MONUMENT
HISTORY Naturally Made
LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
Walk in the footsteps of the nine students who paved the way for integration at Little Rock Central High School and then visit Their Monument at the Arkansas State Capitol that commemorates this major moment in Civil Rights history. Next stop by Mosaic Templars CULTURAL Center in Little Rock that serves to educate visitors on African-American culture. What history will you make in Arkansas? Learn more at civilrightstrail.com.
MOSAIC TEMPLARS CULTURAL CENTER, LITTLE ROCK
Lorraine Motel MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE From the exterior, the Lorraine Motel looks much the same as it did on April 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King Jr. stepped outside of Room 306 onto the motel balcony and into the early evening dusk. Today, a redand-white funeral wreath hangs on the railing, marking the spot where King fell after shots rang out from the boardinghouse across the street. Inside, visitors make their way through the National Civil Rights Museum galleries, eventually reaching the “I Am a Man” exhibit that tells how King came to Memphis to support sanitation workers in their strike demanding equal wages and better benefits. Where walls once stood, glass windows now allow guests to look into the preserved rooms where King and other civil rights leaders often stayed when they visited Memphis. On the left is Room 307, and on the right is Room 306, where, as he was stepping outside, King said his last words. He asked musician Ben Branch to play “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” at that evening’s event. Edmund Pettus Bridge When guests see the rooms, “it pushes some buttons for folks,” said Faith Morris, chief SELMA, ALABAMA marketing and external affairs officer for the museum. “Many are honestly wanting to come After months of trying to register black voters in the county seat of to see where his final moments were.” Selma, Alabama, to no avail, activists took to the streets. When Martin Visitors can see through the rooms to the Luther King Jr. arrived in the city in early 1965 to participate in peacewindow, to the balcony and beyond to the ful demonstrations, he and thousands of other protestors were arrested. boardinghouse where assassin James Earl Ray “This is Selma, Alabama. There are more Negroes in jail with me was likely standing in the bathtub when he than there are on the voting rolls,” King wrote to the New York Times. shot King. Known as the Legacy Building, the Activists decided to take their cause to the state capital with a 54-mile boardinghouse is also part of the museum, and march from Selma to Montgomery. On the morning of March 7, 1965, exhibits cover the investigation, the case against hundreds of demonstrators reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge only to Ray and the ensuing conspiracy theories. find a wall of state troopers and sheriff’s deputies, some on horseback. As the nonviolent protestors tried to move forward, troopers knocked WWW.CIVILRIGHTSMUSEUM.ORG them down, released tear gas and beat them with bullwhips, billy clubs and rubber tubing wrapped with barbed wire. The violent attack, which came to be known as Bloody Sunday, was broadcast around the nation, prompting thousands of supporters to flock to Selma. Two weeks after Bloody Sunday, King led the five-day march to the capital of Montgomery. The marches helped spur the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Today, people flock to Selma to walk across the bridge. At its base is a free interpretive center where visitors can explore exhibits and watch a film about the marches. “I think that it is a pilgrimage,” said Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Information. “It was such a pivotal point in the voting rights movement.” People also congregate in Selma the first weekend of March for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. On the Sunday of the festival, throngs of visitors gather to walk across the bridge to commemorate Bloody Sunday.
Courtesy U.S. Civil Rights Trail
“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” — M A RTIN LU THER K ING JR . APRIL 3, 1968 MEMPHIS, TENNE S SEE
academy discover what was once a school for freed slaves and later became a planning site during the civil rights movement for dr. martin luther king jr.
Photos courtesy Memphis CVB ELEMENTS OF THE LORRAINE MOTEL IN MEMPHIS HAVE BEEN PRESERVED AS THEY WERE IN 1968 WHEN MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. WAS ASSASSINATED.
(912) 368-3580 www.libertycounty.org CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM
Lincoln Memorial WASHINGTON
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. GAVE HIS FAMOUS “I HAVE A DREAM” SPEECH FROM THE STEPS OF THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL.
Eighteen steps from the top of the Lincoln Memorial landing, facing out over the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument, an inscription reads: “I Have a Dream Martin Luther King Jr. The March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom August 28, 1963” The words mark the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his seminal speech, and since being added in 2003, the 40th anniversary of his speech, the inscription “has become such an integral part of the Lincoln Memorial,” said Mike Litterst, National Park Service spokesman for the National Mall. “I don’t have to stand at the bottom of the steps for more Courtesy NPS than 10 minutes before somebody asks me where the inscription of Dr. King’s speech is.” Though the memorials in Washington are impressive, they’re not actual historic sites — but because King gave his speech at the Kelly Ingram Park Lincoln Memorial, “that has made it a dual site, BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA as a memorial and a historic site,” Litterst said. As the Great Emancipator, Lincoln’s prinKelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Alabama, served as a staging ciples infuse the memorial with powerful symground for the community’s large-scale demonstrations, marches and bolism for any civil rights rally or social justice rallies during the height of the civil rights movement. demonstration, especially for the African“They call it a park of reconciliation and resolution,” said Vickie American community, he said. Ashford, director of travel media for the Greater Birmingham Convention In addition to the March on Washington, the and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a solace you feel when you go through, even memorial was the site of the Prayer Pilgrimage knowing the types of things that happened there — it’s a place that’s for Freedom on May 17, 1957; that pilgrimage been blessed despite all the things that have happened there.” marked the third anniversary of the Brown v. Throughout the park, visitors will see sculptures that memorialize Board of Education ruling and urged an end of its place in history. One sculpture shows children behind bars and is resistance to integrating schools. During that engraved “I Ain’t Afraid Of Your Jail,” commemorating the hundreds of rally, King delivered his “Give Us the Ballot” children who were arrested, beaten and sprayed with fire hoses during the speech. Birmingham Children’s Crusade in early May 1963. Another statue shows The memorial was also the site of another a police officer and a police dog attacking a young protester, and another important moment in civil rights history when depicts children crouching in the invisible jet of a high-powered hose. black contralto Marian Anderson sang to a Visitors will also find a sculpture of pastors kneeling in prayer, a crowd of 75,000 people there on Easter Sunday statue of Martin Luther King Jr. and a fountain in the center of the park. 1939 after being banned from performing at The park’s “Four Spirits” bronze sits kitty-corner from 16th Street Constitution Hall. Baptist Church, where a Ku Klux Klan bomb exploded on September 15, 1963, killing four girls inside. WWW.NPS.GOV/LINC With a grant from the Alabama Tourism Department, the CVB developed a mobile phone audio tour of the park that takes visitors through a chronological history of the civil rights movement in Birmingham and provides the historical significance of each sculpture. Because visitors can dial into the audio tour on their cellphones, they can visit the park at any time and explore it at their own pace, Ashford said. WWW.BIRMINGHAMAL.ORG
MEMORIAL EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH ATLANTA
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” — PR ESIDEN T A BR A H A M LINCOLN GE T T YSBURG ADDRE S S, 1 863
Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in the pews of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where his father was pastor. King was baptized there as a baby, and his funeral was held there after his assassination in 1968. Between the bookends of King’s remarkable life, the church was the setting of some of his most significant sermons and milestones. King delivered his first sermon at the church’s pulpit in 1947, and the congregation voted to license him as a minister shortly afterward. King was ordained in February 1948. King joined his father as co-pastor at Ebenezer in November 1959 in a move to be closer to the Atlanta headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The church is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and in 2001, the National Park Service began a two-phase restoration of the 1922 brick church in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. Work included structural repairs and updated infrastructure, but the project also restored the appearance of the Heritage Sanctuary and fellowship hall to the years when King served as co-pastor with his father, from 1960 to 1968; that work included preserving the stained-glass windows and restoring the pipe organ. The church’s modern space, the Horizon Sanctuary, was completed in 1999. The congregation welcomes visitors every Sunday both in person and online through its virtual Ebenezer Everywhere. The Heritage Sanctuary is open for tours daily. W W W.EBEN EZER ATL .ORG
U N IT E D STAT E S
VIRGINIAâ€™S ROBERT RUSSA MOTON MUSEUM TELLS THE STORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENT PROTESTS THAT BEGAN IN 1951.
Lesser-known sites deserve their day in the sun
BY R ACHEL C A RTER
he first school in the South for freed slaves; the first studentled strike to protest inferior learning conditions; the first high school in Tennessee to integrate; the first city south of the Mason-Dixon line to pass a city ordinance guaranteeing equal access to public accommodations for all people, regardless of race: These historic sites may not be as widely known as some other civil rights locations, but their pivotal roles in the movement opened the doors, both figuratively and literally, to desegregation.
CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM Courtesy Longwood University
Penn Center ST. HELENA ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA
The Penn Center is hallowed historic ground, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also prepare for the future. Situated on South Carolina’s St. Helena Island, the center is the site of Penn School, the first school in the South for freed slaves, founded in 1862, three years before the Civil War ended. When the war reached Fort Sumter, European slaveowners abandoned their plantations and their slaves, which the Union army freed. At the time, white society predominantly held that black people couldn’t be educated; teachers from Pennsylvania came to the island to prove otherwise as part of the Port Royal Experiment. The 50-acre campus is home to 19 buildings. Visitors can step inside the Brick Baptist Church, the largest building on campus, where slavesCourtesy Penn Center turned-students learned reading, writing and arithmetic. Among the other historic buildings are dormitories, the dining hall and the community house. The center is working to digitize the York W. Bailey Museum with a new smartphone app and call-in guided tour, and plans to turn Green McAdoo Cultural Center Gantt Cottage, where Martin Luther King Jr. CLINTON, TENNESSEE stayed when he and other civil rights leaders gathered at the center, into a museum by year’s end, executive director Rodell Lawrence said. Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton, Tennessee, is housed Visitors will also find a new farmers market in a former segregated elementary school, but its exhibits focus on the housed in an old barn and a new aquaponic “Clinton 12,” the 12 black students who led the integration of Clinton greenhouse, where the center is raising fish High School in 1956, one year before the more widely known integration and shrimp and growing herbs and spices. The at Little Rock Central High School. center also planted five acres with muscadine Visitors can step into a 1950s classroom to watch a seven-minute grapes to be made into wines and ciders and video about how children attended Green McAdoo School through the used in syrup and jelly. eighth grade and then had to bus to Knoxville 20 miles southeast to “We’re making Penn Center self-suffiattend high school, said Marilyn Hayden, center administrator. cient,” Lawrence said. The remainder of the galleries tell the story of how Clinton High School Lawrence also plans to add interpretive was ordered to desegregate following the Brown v. Board of Education areas where guests can see handmade boats ruling, how anti-integrationists — both residents and outside influencfrom the era and watch craftspeople weave ers — protested the move and how National Guard troops were called grass baskets or tie fishnets. in to keep the peace. “People need to have an experience when Every morning, the Clinton 12 would walk together down Broad Street they come here, as opposed to going to a museum to Clinton High; the center’s life-size exhibit photos help guests visualand looking at a bunch of stuff,” he said. ize what it was like for the students, Hayden said. Among the exhibits WWW.PENNCENTER.COM
are some of the letters, postcards and telegrams sent to the Clinton 12 students at the time, “some in support and some just horrible,” she said. At a touch screen, visitors can also watch clips from “The Clinton 12” documentary that was widely aired on PBS in 2008 and 2009 and, in the Epilogue Room, see the 1957 episode of Edward R. Murrow’s “See It Now” about the school’s desegregation. WWW.GREENMCADOO.ORG
“ … to lead our church to do the right thing …. There is no color line at the cross of Jesus.” — PAUL T UR N ER BAPTIST MINISTER WHO WAS SE VERE LY BE ATEN FOR E SCORTING THE CLINTON 12 TO SCHOOL
Courtesy Green McAdoo Cultural Center
DISPLAYS AT GREEN MCADOO CULTURAL CENTER TELL THE STORY OF DESEGREGATION AT CLINTON HIGH SCHOOL IN CLINTON, TENNESSEE.
Courtesy Green McAdoo Cultural Center
travel a trail that
CHANGED THE PATH of our entire country. North Carolina is filled with many paths but only one U.S. Civil Rights Trail. Immerse your next group in the historical significance NC played in the fight for American civil rights. Visit F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter, the catalyst for the sit-in movement, and other historical locations in our state. PLAN YOUR GROUP’S GETAWAY TO NORTH CAROLINA BY CONTACTING: Amanda Baker 984-364-7474 email@example.com
Photo Credits: Keenan Hairston and Visit Raleigh
New Zion Baptist Church NEW ORLEANS
Although the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group of Baptist pastors and activists, was founded in January 1957 in Atlanta, the group was officially incorporated in New Orleans on Valentine’s Day, 1957. SCLC leaders gathered that day at New Zion Baptist Church on the corner of Third and Lasalle streets to sign the forms that made the organization official and established an executive board of directors, including Martin Luther King Jr. as president. “The fact that the actual incorporation paperwork was signed here in New Orleans, it’s a special thing and valuable, and we’re excited to celebrate it,” said Ella Camburnbeck, executive director of Felicity Redevelopment, a nonprofit organization that works to combat blight and promote redevelopment in the Central City neighborhood. Courtesy Felicity Redevelopment Soon, visitors to New Zion Baptist Church will have more to explore than the plaque mounted on the side of the church. About five years ago, Felicity bought two vacant lots across from New Zion and partnered with the Tulane Regional Urban Design Center to design and develop the Robert Russa Moton Museum Southern Christian Leadership Conference FARMVILLE, VIRGINIA Pavilion Project, an interpretive site that will help promote the church’s important moment in civil rights history. On April 23, 1951, Barbara Rose Johns led a student body walkout to The project is part memorial, part eduprotest overcrowding and inferior conditions at Robert Russa Moton High cational site, part public gathering area. The School, the all-black high school in Virginia’s Prince Edward County. covered, open-air pavilion will speak to the When the school opened in 1939 in Farmville, it was built to house lines of a traditional New Orleans “shot180 students. By the late 1940s, enrollment had grown to more than 450 gun house” and will have semi-transparent students, many of whom were being taught in leaking tarpaper shacks panels printed with information about the with no insulation, said museum managing director Cameron Patterson. church and SCLC. Felicity is working with Johns and her planning team gathered the student body in the audiunCommon Construction, a nonprofit contorium, where Johns stood on stage and led students out of the school tractor that provides workforce training for and into history. Today, visitors to the Robert Russa Moton Museum high school students, and the organizations start in that same auditorium, where they watch a video called “Strike,” plan to break ground on the project and a re-creation of the student-led strike that includes interviews from complete construction this summer. people who were present that day, including Johns’ sister. “We’re really looking at this as hisThen, “as the students in the video march out, we’re marching into” tory that everybody can celebrate,” the next exhibit gallery, Patterson said. Camburnbeck said. In the museum’s five remaining galleries, visitors learn about the WWW.FELICITYREDEVELOPMENT.ORG
ROBERT RUSSA MOTON
subsequent NAACP lawsuit against the county that later became one of five cases folded into the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that made segregation unlawful. Visitors also learn about Virginia’s “Massive Resistance” period that followed the ruling, when Prince Edward County closed all public schools for five years — and created a private academy for well-off white students — rather than comply with a court order to desegregate. “Grasping that a locality would close its schools for a five-year period is something that resonates powerfully with visitors,” Patterson said. WWW.MOTONMUSEUM.ORG
Courtesy Longwood University
17-1379-US Civil Rights Planner AD.pdf
ONE MISSISSIPPI. TWO MUSEUMS
M A N Y S TO R I E S
FIRST AFRICAN BAPTIST CHURCH TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA The First African Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, became a hub for civil rights demonstrations, rallies and marches because its pastor, T.Y. Rogers Jr., was the head of the community’s campaign to end segregation in the city. Rogers became the congregation’s pastor in 1963, and Martin Luther King Jr. gave the sermon at Rogers’ installation program. The following year, Rogers and other black residents formed the Tuscaloosa Citizens for Action Committee, which Rogers headed, to protest the “Whites Only” signs that the county courthouse installed in front of the bathrooms. First African Baptist became the campaign headquarters for many of the committee’s actions, including a pivotal June 9 rally outside the church. Rogers was arrested after he refused to call off the rally, and police pushed the crowd back into the church. Later, police sprayed fire hoses and threw tear gas canisters through the church windows to force protesters outside so they could be arrested. The violent confrontation helped spur action on several pending court cases, and on June 26, a federal judge ordered Tuscaloosa County to remove the whites-only signs on the courthouse bathrooms.
Mississippi is known for storytelling. Two new venues in Jackson, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, invite visitors inside the state’s rich and complex history. Come learn the true stories responsible for shaping a state and influencing the world.
MISSISSIPPI CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI
W W W.F IRSTA F R IC A NCH URCH.ORG
Louisville Downtown Civil Rights Markers LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY On May 14, 1963, Louisville, Kentucky, became the first city south of the Mason-Dixon line to pass a public accommodations ordinan granting equal access to all people, regardless of race. But it didn’t happen without two years of civil rights demonstrations demanding it. Most of the 11 Louisville Downtown Civil Rights Markers can be found along South Fourth Street and highlight sites of mass sit-ins, stand-ins and other protests that started in earnest in spring 1961. The demonstrations led to the arrests of hundreds of protestors but also led to several stores overturning their segregation policies, as well as a voter registration drive and a campaign to elect new city officials, who then passed the public accommodations ordinance. The seeds were sewn on November 27, 1958, when Iris King, the mayor of Kingston, Jamaica, and her group of delegates stopped at Walgreens Drugstore for a cup of coffee after touring the business district. The store refused to serve her and the black members of her delegation. “It really was a source of embarrassment,” said Clest Lanier, senior program coordinator and community liaison for engagement programs with the University of Louisville. The incident sparked a boycott, and local high school students protested in front of the store. A week later, Walgreens quietly overturned its segregation policy. Other downtown businesses, however, weren’t so welcoming of change. At Blue Boar Cafeteria’s downtown locations, merchant policemen and customers instigated violence against protesters. At Stewart’s Department Store, the “bulwark of segregation,” black customers weren’t allowed to try on clothes, use the washrooms or eat in the restaurants. Despite numerous demonstrations, it was only after the ordinance passed that Stewart’s restaurants started serving black patrons, which “was considered a major feat,” Lanier said. Although many of the original locations have changed uses or been demolished, visitors can still step inside the Brown Theatre as well as the former Stewart’s building, now an Embassy Suites hotel. WWW.GOTOLOUISVILLE.COM
LOUISVILLE CIVIL RIGHTS
Courtesy Louisville CVB
DOWNTOWN LOUISVILLE’S MUHAMMAD ALI CENTER HONORS THE WORLD-FAMOUS BOXER WHO GREW UP IN LOUISVILLE AND WHO TOOK A PUBLIC STAND ON CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUES IN THE 1960S.
MUHAMMAD ALI CENTER
“ No matter what they call you, you don’t say one word back — not one. No matter what they do or how much vulgarity they spew out at you, sit there and be the picture of dignity and self-control.” — LY M A N JOHNSON TE ACHER AT CENTR AL HIGH SCHOOL IN LOUISVILLE THE RE ST OF THE DRE AM : THE BL ACK ODYS SE Y OF LYMAN JOHNSON
Photos courtesy Muhammad Ali Center
MASON TEMPLE CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
Much has been said about Martin Luther King Jr.’s final — some say prophetic — speech, which he delivered April 3, 1968, at Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tennessee. He delivered the speech, which he wasn’t scheduled to give, the night before his assassination on the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel. In the address, King said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” The Mason Temple was built between 1940 and 1945 as the centerpiece of the six-building campus that serves as the denomination’s headquarters. The massive building acted as a hub of civil rights activities in the 1950s and 1960s. King wasn’t even scheduled to speak on the night of April 3, 1968, but when the crowd demanded to hear him, Ralph Abernathy, who was supposed to speak, called King at the motel and asked him to come address the crowd. W W W.M ASON TEMPLE .COM
AFTER 50 YEARS
LIVES ON During MLK50, be a part of a yearlong commemoration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
To learn more visit memphistravel.com/mlk50.
U N IT E D STAT E S
TRAVELERS HEAR FIRST-PERSON STORIES AT THE NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARYâ€™S CIVIL RIGHTS ROOM AND COLLECTION.
These participants share their personal accounts
BY LYSA A LLM A N-BA LDW IN
ometimes, a story is worth a thousand pictures. The civil rights movement was full of bravery, innovation and remarkable people who reshaped the history of the country. And while many museums and historic sites offer exhibits and galleries that tell those stories through artifacts and photographs, some go a step further with personal, oral histories shared by those who bravely navigated those turbulent times. In special places throughout the South, participants in the civil rights movement can meet with groups to tell their own stories of courage. These intimate, authentic encounters immerse visitors in the history of the movement and demonstrate how the events of the past influenced the cultural, social, economic and political landscapes in which we live today.
By Art Meripol, courtesy U.S. Civil Rights Trail
The Civil Rights Room and Collection NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE From voter registration drives to nonviolent sit-ins at segregated businesses and other campaigns, Nashville citizens have always united at the grassroots level of the civil rights movement. It was there that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at historic Fisk University in 1960, the day after an estimated 5,000 people, primarily students, marched in silence to City Hall to protest the early morning bombing of the home of a local black councilman and attorney. At the downtown branch of the Nashville Public Library, visitors will THE CIVIL RIGHTS find the Civil Rights Room and Collection, a stunning state-of-the-art, multimedia assemblage of important Nashville places, personalities and CO L L EC TI O N events from the movement’s heyday. The library also offers a special speaker series called Civil Rights and a Civil Society: The Stories Behind Photos by Gary Layda, courtesy Nashville Public Library the Room at the Nashville Public Library. There, tour groups can listen while local movement veterans share personal on-the-ground accounts of their integral roles in changing the narrative on race and inclusion in this country. “We were called colored people then, and colored people were Among them is Ernest Rip Patton, a native accustomed to knowing they could go downtown but only do certain of Nashville who was a music education major things,” he said. “I could go to different stores and do my shopping for at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial clothes, but I could not try them on to see if they fit. At those stores that College, now Tennessee State University. In had lunch counters, I could not sit down and eat. I could spend money his oral histories, Patton recounts numerous [downtown], but they did not have all of the amenities that whites had.” social challenges he and his peers faced at Groups eagerly soak up Patton’s stories about his involvement in the time. the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, commonly known as SNCC — pronounced “snick” — an organization of young people actively assuming roles in civil rights movement leadership. “We were taught about nonviolence by a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School that had been in India as a missionary studying under Gandhi,” he said. “Through him we were taught how to protect ourselves, how to go about demonstrating, what to do if you were hit or spat upon, or if somebody said something to you, and how not to fight back.” Because of SNCC’s efforts, Nashville became the first city in the South to desegregate its lunch counters, popular gathering places found in many cities that were accessible only to whites. Groups there can also explore the moving centerpiece: a circular table symbolic of the lunch counters that features a timeline peppered with over 100 significant civil rights milestones. There is also a special audio/video area that offers a variety of short civil-rights-themed documentary films.
THE CIVIL RIGHTS
CO L L EC TI O N
St. Augustine Catholic Church NEW ORLEANS
TRAVELERS CAN HEAR STORIES OF CIVIL RIGHTS EFFORTS AT HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN NEW ORLEANS. Photos by Frank Methe, courtesy St. Augustine Catholic Church
“We were called colored people then, and colored people were accustomed to knowing they could go downtown but only do certain things.” — ER N EST R IP PAT TON
St. Augustine Catholic Church has been a respite and source of inspiration and community for freed people of color, slaves, white Creole, Haitian and French immigrant worshipers since its founding in 1841. The church’s location is key, as it is situated in the historic Faubourg Tremé, known not only as the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States, but also as a place where free blacks were permitted to acquire, purchase and own real property years before the official end of slavery. The church, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2016, is also recognized by some historians as the birthplace of the Southern civil rights movement. Today, many of the city’s local icons and their descendants proudly recount their experiences for tour groups and others who come in search of in-depth connections to this community’s rich history. Monique Brierre Aziz is a Haitian immigrant and long-time parishioner. The stories she often shares are unique in that after coming to the United States as a child, she first lived in Shreveport, Louisiana, where her father, a doctor, worked tirelessly to help integrate the schools in the 1960s. “In Shreveport, there was a Catholic school for blacks, but we did not have the same books, no certified teachers and not the same exposure as the white schools,” Brierre Aziz said. “So in my father’s fighting for education rights, by the time we finished elementary school we could filter into the all-girls Catholic high school and receive those same resources.” After moving to New Orleans, where she has now lived for over 30 years, Brierre Aziz learned that despite the early integration of this neighborhood and the St. Augustine spiritual community, segregation still reigned. Among her stories is one she heard through descendants about a church member prohibited from sitting in the front of the sanctuary and relegated instead to the last two pews. “When I talk to people on tours, I incorporate all that I can about some of the people who were active in the civil rights movement in New Orleans,” she said. This includes people like Homer Plessy, the plaintiff in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case in 1896 for refusing to move from a railcar designated for whites only and A.P. Tureaud, a key legal activist working to end Jim Crow laws in Louisiana. “It’s important to tell the stories you hear from ordinary people. Sometimes people say that these things didn’t really happen, but the stories are true and affected us. I love New Orleans, I love the history, and I want to share it with people.” WWW.STAUGCHURCH.ORG
Albany Civil Rights Institute and Old Mount Zion Baptist Church ALBANY, GEORGIA In southwest Georgia, one of the first and among the most influential battleground cities in the fight against segregation was Albany, where Martin Luther King Jr. not only honed his skills in front of capacity crowds, but also met and coordinated many activities of the movement with four major civil rights organizations: the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and SNCC. These entities often met at what is now the Old Mount Zion Baptist Church, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and part of the Albany Civil Rights Institute. In addition to visiting this state-of-the-art facility encompassing a wide array of visual, audio and digitally mastered exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia, groups can hear personal stories from leaders and activists from the civil rights era that still reside in the area. Among the most memorable retellings are those from the members: Charles Neblett, Bernice Johnson, Cordell Hull Reagon and Freedom Singers. Rutha Harris. And like the Freedom Riders who traveled on interstate Originally formed in 1962 to raise money for buses across the South to protest segregation, the Freedom Singers SNCC, the Freedom Singers had four founding traveled extensively, driving over 50,000 miles and singing at churches, educational institutions, private homes and prominent events in 46 states. Harris has since formed a new Freedom Singers group. On the second Saturday of every month, the group shares — in story and acapella “We were in a brown song — the history of that turbulent time at Old Mount Zion Church. “The music is what makes all the difference,” Harris said. “It’s a compact Buick just big universal language; it calms the heart, calms your inner being and can calm any situation.” enough for the four of us, To open the performance, the singers march in, picket signs in hand, and we were shot at. And circling the pews singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round,” one of the most well-known songs about protest and freedom. Others, such the driver was the only peras “I Woke Up This Morning With My Mind on Freedom,” “I’m On My Way” and “The Buses Are A-Comin,’” also keep visitors spellbound. “The son who couldn’t duck. We movement was about using music to bring people together of all colors to do what God sent us to do,” Harris said. did some singing, and we One story she has shared with attendees is about a particularly frightening incident she had while driving through Alabama in the 1960s. did some praying.” “We were in a brown compact Buick just big enough for the four of us, and we were shot at,” she said. “And the driver was the only person who couldn’t duck. We did some singing, and we did some praying.” — RU TH A H A R R IS The performance is an interactive experience in that the Freedom Singers also invite and encourage the multicultural, multigenerational attendees to share their personal stories about race relations to encourage cross-cultural understanding and conversation.
ALBANY CIVIL RIGHTS
INSTITUTE AND OLD MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH
Photos courtesy Albany CVB
RUTHA HARRIS, A CIVIL RIGHTS EXPERT, WELCOMES VISITORS TO ALBANY’S OLD MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH.
BROWN CHAPEL AME CHURCH SELMA, ALABAMA
The Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, both the building and its congregants, played integral roles in the marches that led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The 1908 brick building, with its two white-domed towers and intricate facade, was the starting point for the Selmato-Montgomery marches. On the morning of March 7, 1965, known as Bloody Sunday, about 600 protestors gathered at Brown Chapel in defiance of the governor’s ban on protest marches to march to the state capital of Montgomery. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge six blocks away, troopers and deputies met the nonviolent protestors and beat them with billy clubs, bullwhips and barbed-wire-wrapped tubing. As news of Bloody Sunday spread across the country, and as the violent attack was televised nationally, thousands of supporters flocked to Selma. Two days later, Martin Luther King Jr. led a symbolic march to the infamous bridge, and two weeks after Bloody Sunday, he led the five-day march to the capital. Brown Chapel welcomes visitors, especially on the Sunday during the city’s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee held the first weekend every March. Groups can also arrange guided tours through the church’s tour coordinator. W W W.FACEBOOK .COM /BROW NCH A PEL A ME
Explore the halls of the elementary school that symbolizes the tipping point to abolish segregation. There’s no place like Kansas to celebrate change. 800.2.KANSAS · TravelKS.com/CivilRights
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
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Missouri History Museum ST. LOUIS
When talking about cities that played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement, St. Louis does not typically come to mind. But the city was part of several important civil rights events, and those stories come to life for visitors to the Missouri History Museum. “That’s the biggest surprise to people, because they don’t think of St. Louis in that way,” said Tami Goldman, tourism and group sales Photos courtesy Missouri Historical Society manager. “I grew up in St. Louis, but I would say that at least 70 percent of the information about that time that we have here, I did not learn about in school. What we offer has national appeal and is just the tip of the iceberg Louis, Currents and Reflections, one of the museum’s core galleries. of St. Louis stories.” Tour groups can also request a special Show and Tell in the library and For example, what is known in some research facility, where in an intimate, behind-the-scenes setting, they historical references as the first civil will have an exclusive opportunity to explore many artifacts and items rights demonstration on the continent of memorabilia not on display to the public, and to engage in a questiontook place in St. Louis in 1819 when and-answer session with museum curators. free blacks and ally whites protested the Now through April 15, 2018, groups can also enjoy a special exhibit impeding admission of Missouri into the titled “No. 1 in Civil Rights: The African-American Freedom Struggle Union as a slave state. in St. Louis.” The exhibit offers a significant narrative of ground-level This and other significant events relaactivism, including four precedent-setting civil rights Supreme Court tive to the city’s human rights struggles cases tried there: Dred Scott v. Stanford in 1857, Gaines v. Canada in are well documented in Seeking St. 1938, Shelley v. Kraemer in 1948, and Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. in 1968. The experience is coupled with live, interactive performances from Missouri History Museum Activists who portray researched, true-to-life figures recounting the St. Louis African-American struggle for freedom. “The exhibit also does a comparison to aspects of the fight for equality from the 1800s, through the actual civil rights movement to today, with the riots that happened most recently in East St. Louis and Ferguson,” Goldman said. “A lot of our guided tours are created so that they are not one-sided, but facilitated dialogue used as a touchpoint to invite conversation.” WWW.MOHISTORY.ORG
DRED SCOTT: OIL ON CANVAS BY LOUIS SCHULZE, 1888
See where they took a seat to make a stand. In Greensboro, North Carolina, four students from North Carolina A&T State University assumed a rightful place at the F.W. Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter in 1960 and launched a wave of peaceful protests that reignited the Civil Rights Movement. The Woolworth’s site, now the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, is one of dozens of inspiring landmarks on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. Walk in the footsteps of the brave men, women and children who changed the course of history. Learn the stories and discover where they happened at CivilRightsTrail.com.
What happened here changed the world.
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The recently unveiled Civil Rights Trail encompasses 100 significant sites stretching from Kansas to Louisiana, Virginia and Georgia as well...
Published on Mar 1, 2018
The recently unveiled Civil Rights Trail encompasses 100 significant sites stretching from Kansas to Louisiana, Virginia and Georgia as well...