2023 U.S. Civil Rights Trail Travel Guide

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2023 TRAVEL GUIDE
GET CLOSE TO HISTORY Visit Little Rock and get close to American Civil Rights history. Walk the path of the Little Rock Nine at the Central High School National Historic Site and discover the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, dedicated to telling the stories of the African American experience in Arkansas. Learn more at CivilRightsTrail.com and visit Arkansas.com to plan your trip today.
4 CONTENTS 8 36 Spreading the Word Civil Rights Museums THE U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL IS REACHING NEW AUDIENCES WITH IMPACTFUL STORYTELLING. THESE LANDMARK INSTITUTIONS PRESERVE THE PAST AND INSPIRE FUTURE GENERATIONS. STUDENTS, TEACHERS AND ACTIVISTS FOUGHT TOGETHER FOR EQUALITY IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS. 16 44 26 52 Achievements in Education FOOT SOLDIERS AND ACTIVISTS RECOUNT THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA. Personal Stories Towns on the Trail Black-Owned Restaurants THESE SMALL DESTINATIONS PLAYED BIG PARTS IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. THESE RESTAURANTS OFFER HERITAGE AND GREAT FOOD IN U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL CITIES. 6 A Civil Rights Timeline FOLLOW IMPORTANT CIVIL RIGHTS EVENTS FROM 1951 TO 1968 PUBLISHED FOR 3500 PIEDMONT RD. NE, STE. 775 ATLANTA, GA 30305 404-231-1790 CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM PUBLISHED BY NICHE TRAVEL PUBLISHERS 301 EAST HIGH STREET LEXINGTON, KY 40507 859-253-0455 GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM TO ADVERTISE: BRYCE@GROUPTRAVELLEADER.COM ON THE COVER: “Worn But Not Out” depicts the endurance of civil rights activists. Painting by Edwin Lester, artistedwinlester.com.

What happened here changed the world.

When 10 sticks of dynamite planted by the Birmingham Ku Klux Klan exploded at 16th Street Baptist Church on Youth Sunday, four little Black girls were killed, a fifth maimed and two Black boys were slain nearby. The date of Sept. 15, 1963 registered the single greatest loss of life during the Civil Rights Movement.

Now revered as part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, a National Park Service unit, the stillactive church, including the museum in the basement, is open for tours. To learn more about dozens of sites on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, search civilrightstrail.com

For information contact: Rosemary.Judkins@tourism.alabama.gov or call 334.242.4493

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Chris Granger

WALKOUT AT ROBERT RUSSA MOTON HIGH SCHOOL FARMVILLE, VIRGINIA

BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION SUPREME COURT DECISION ILLEGALIZES SCHOOL SEGREGATION

EMMETT TILL MURDERED MONEY, MISSISSIPPI

ROSA PARKS ARRESTED MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA

BUSES DESEGREGATED MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. LEADS SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA

CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957 SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT DWIGHT EISENHOWER

INTEGRATION AT CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS

CIVIL RIGHTS TIMELINE MOVEMENT

MANY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE CONTRIBUTED TO THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN WAYS LARGE AND SMALL, BUT NUMEROUS HIGH-PROFILE EVENTS FROM 1951 TO 1968 GALVANIZED THE NATION. HERE’S A TIMELINE OF THE MAJOR MILESTONES DURING THAT PERIOD.

LUNCH COUNTER SIT-INS GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

FREEDOM RIDES

MOBS ATTACK FREEDOM RIDERS IN VARIOUS SOUTHERN CITIES

UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI DESEGREGATED OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI

THE BIRMINGHAM CAMPAIGN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

MEDGAR EVERS MURDERED JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI

MARCH ON WASHINGTON WASHINGTON, D.C.

BOMBING OF 16TH STREET BAPTIST CHURCH BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON

“BLOODY SUNDAY” ON THE EDMUND PETTUS BRIDGE SELMA, ALABAMA

VOTING RIGHTS ACT SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. ASSASSINATED MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1968 SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON

6 1951 1957 1963 1955 1961
1965
1954
1956 1962
1960 1964
1968

History comes alive at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in the eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Come explore this official destination along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. You’ll discover incredible stories and wonderful small-town charm at this confluence of history and nature. WVtourism.com

Rich history. To enrich your visit.

Harpers Ferry

Of Faith and Foot Soldiers

There are few American stories more compelling than those of the civil rights movement.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, activists, faith leaders, educators, students and everyday citizens fought long odds and entrenched opposition in an effort to secure equality, respect, voting rights and more. The stories of their struggles, sacrifices and victories reverberate in historic sites and cultural institutions around the country. And they are being told in a variety of new and innovative ways by members of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a cooperative effort to showcase more than 140 historic sites, churches, museums and other places of interest integral to the civil rights movement. The trail stretches from Topeka, Kansas, to Wilmington, Delaware, to Sarasota, Florida.

Since its launch in 2018, the trail has become one of the most admired initiatives in historic and cultural tourism, capturing worldwide media attention and winning wide acclaim. Now, five years since its inception, the trail’s leaders are finding new and more engaging ways to tell its captivating stories.

Telling Personal Stories

For many travelers, a civil rights journey begins with research. To make that research more informative and inspiring, the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Alliance launched a new version of its website, civilrightstrail. com, in February.

“We’re really excited about the new site,” said Liz Bittner, managing director of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance. “It offers more storytelling around the foot soldiers of the movement. There’s also some

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AN EXHIBIT AT NASHVILLE’S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC DETAILS THE ROLE MUSICIANS PLAYED IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. courtesy USCRT
U.S. Civil Rights Trail presents a uniquely American story

The experience is unforgettable . Because the lessons should never be forgotten .

There’s no better place to learn about the struggle for black equality while walking in the footsteps of the Movement’s heroes. It’s all here, from the world-class Mississippi Civil Rights Museum to the many important historical sites and monuments on the Mississippi Freedom Trail. Plan your journey today at VisitMississippi.org/CivilRights.

University of Mississippi Civil Rights Monument Oxford, Mississippi

beautiful photography we have gone out and shot. It absolutely conveys the feelings and experiences you can get by visiting the sites on the trail.”

Capturing and telling first-person stories from foot soldiers and others involved in the civil rights movement is taking on increasing importance as time goes on. Since the events took place in the 1950s and ’60s, participants who were teenagers at the time are now reaching later stages of life.

“It has been 60-plus years, so capturing their stories is definitely on a final countdown,” Bittner said. “So in addition to our website and videos, that’s why we have launched a whole series of podcasts that have been wildly successful. They have allowed a great number of first-person stories to be told. If we don’t get the stories now, we’ll never get them.”

Spotlight on Education

In addition to launching the new website, the trail alliance is working on highlighting the importance of education in the civil rights movement and commemorating the role that educators and others played in ending school segregation and preparing Black children for the future.

“Next year will be the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision,” Bittner said. “In addition to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, there were a number of other schools that were very instrumental in desegregation — places like Central High School in Little Rock and the William Frantz school in Louisiana. There’s a site in Orangeburg, South Carolina, that we’re working toward having on the trail. It gives them a network to connect to the whole conversation around school segregation. That’s one of the things that makes the trail really exciting.”

In addition to showcasing education-related sites, the trail alliance is also working on initiatives to better fund, restore and preserve significant historic places, many of which are too often overlooked.

“We’re looking to elevate some of the existing sites to be national historic sites through the National Park Service,” Bittner said. “That changes the ability

to protect those sites in the long term. That can include places like the Medgar Evers site in Mississippi. Many of those sites struggle with funding. And even for the well-funded, well-loved ones, having so many visitors is hard on those buildings, because many of them weren’t built as museums. We work on marketing these sites and telling their stories. But we would be remiss if we didn’t also offset with that with protection and funding.”

A Growing Audience

From launching the new website to adding trail sites and pursuing NPS status, the goal of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail remains the same — to expose more people around the world to the incredible stories of America’s civil rights movement.

“We’d like to see visitation to the sites continue to grow,” Bittner said. “There are some initiatives to build in more guide services and more storytelling docents available in the communities where the sites are. Whether it’s schoolchildren or older adults who are in a learning mode, or a general family that’s visiting, it’s one thing to look at a building. But it’s a much more moving experience if someone explains the story to you. They can talk about the people and touch your soul. We need people to do that.”

Bittner said the alliance also plans to continue its efforts to see some of the country’s most significant civil rights destinations inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with hopes that it will happen in 2024.

That global recognition would help amplify the trail’s key message: that America’s civil rights story is for everyone.

Travelers planning a trip on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail can find all the latest news about civil rights sites and events at:

“It’s not just an African American story,” Bittner said. “It’s important for all of humanity. And when you’re visiting Atlanta, Selma, Little Rock or Topeka, it absolutely doesn’t matter what you came for. These sites are worth a visit.”

10 CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM
THE NEW U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL WEBSITE SHOWCASES PERSONAL STORIES OF CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS.

Multiple Sites

Single Site

CIVIL RIGHTS AND MISSOURI

A 200-YEAR STORY

Missouri is home to places, people and events that have impacted the fight for racial equality. Experience their stories at these locations.

Explore more Missouri civil rights stories at VisitMo.com

KANSAS CITY INDEPENDENCE ST. LOUIS NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL MUSEUM KANSAS CITY DISCOVER THE STORIES OF TRAILBLAZERS WHO BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER LIKE JACKIE ROBINSON AND BUCK O’NEIL. HARRY S. TRUMAN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM INDEPENDENCE OLD COURTHOUSE ST. LOUIS EXPLORE THE LEGACY OF HARRY S. TRUMAN, WHO DESEGREGATED THE ARMED FORCES THROUGH EXECUTIVE ORDER. LEARN ABOUT DRED AND HARRIET SCOTT AND THE INFAMOUS SUPREME COURT DECISION REGARDING THEIR FREEDOM.

EXPERIENCE THE MOVEMENT

EDUCATION TOWNS MUSEUMS

LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL WAS THE SITE OF A WATERSHED SCHOOL INTEGRATION STRUGGLE IN 1957.

A Birthright to Learn

Brown v. Board of Education approaches 70th anniversary

It’s been nearly 70 years since Brown v. Board of Education changed the face of schooling in America.

The landmark Supreme Court decision ending segregation in American schools was handed down in 1954 and was a turning point in the civil rights movement. But it wasn’t the only significant education-focused event. From studentled school strikes to full-on physical integration efforts, the fight for African Americans to receive a fair and equal education didn’t come easily. Plenty of leaders, students, activists and everyday civilians organized to ensure everyone had the same birthright to learn.

As America prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board next year, here are five education sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail worth planning a trip around.

Courtesy USCRT
STORIES RESTAURANTS

Central High School

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS

Things were supposed to be changing for the better. The federal government made desegregation a law, but in the fall of 1957, when nine African American students courageously tried to make their way through the front doors of the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, things turned ugly. Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to block the Little Rock Nine’s way, and chaos ensued, with thousands of white protesters angrily pushing back against their integration efforts.

Later on September 25, President Dwight Eisenhower called in federal troops for backup to enforce the law. The Little Rock Nine were escorted to class and became symbols of bravery in the integration struggle during the civil rights movement.

Today, students of all colors attend Central High. And in addition to being home to the historic public high school, the campus also contains a visitors center run by the National Park Service. Group leaders can arrange tours to look at this critical piece of civil rights education history. Though they aren’t allowed inside the school, groups can explore the visitors center and museum and see nearby Magnolia Mobil Gas Station — once the heart of Little Rock’s live media reporting during the civil rights movement.

“It’s a very visual experience [and] very hands-on for all kinds of learners — auditory and visual,” said Brian Schweiger, chief of interpretation at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.

Schweiger encourages visitors to take a walk around the site, mainly through the Commemorative Gardens, where there’s a photo exhibition of Central High’s history. For an immersive audio experience, he recommends visitors download the National Park Service app or enhance the tour with a podcaststyle history of the school done in partnership with current students there.

NPS.GOV/CHSC

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site TOPEKA, KANSAS

Long considered one of the most critical turning points in U.S. education history and the civil rights movement, the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in the Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark victory. Today, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, preserves the site of one of the schools involved in the case and is worth planning a trip around.

Visitors will learn about the five individual lawsuits, all with the same goal of ending segregation, that were combined by the Supreme Court to challenge the fallacy of separate but equal public schools.

It was a time of deep inequality in the school system, and students and their families refused to stop fighting until the landmark Supreme Court case outlawed segregation nationally, changing the educational landscape forever.

For visitors looking to immerse themselves in the inner workings of the case, the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site has extensive exhibitions, including a film that explores racism and segregation history. There’s a photo gallery documenting the years leading up to the Supreme Court decision and a legacy room that speaks to the impact and importance of Brown v. Board of Education.

“Prepare for an impactful experience,” said Nicholas Murray, park ranger of interpretation, education, and visitor services at the site. “Our exhibits are designed to be emotionally impactful. Right away, when you walk into the building, we have segregated signs up to get you in the mindset of what it was like to live in a segregated society.”

NPS.GOV/BRVB

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Courtesy NPS Courtesy NPS BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE MAGNOLIA MOBIL GAS STATION AT CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

What Does It Mean To Speak Truth To Power?

The answers to that question are found in the stories and legacies of the Civil Rights Movement when people from all walks of life joined forces around a collection of related themes: the right to vote, opportunities for employment, fairness in and quality of education, and access to public accommodations to advance the ideals of a nation.

www.kentuckytourism.com

To learn how singing music, the refusal to move from a restaurant counter, a declaration of non-compliance, the skills of a master negotiator and a student sit-in all contributed to dramatic change in our country, come explore the U.S. Civil Rights Trail in Kentucky. UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS RESEARCH CENTER

SEEK Museum

RUSSELLVILLE, KENTUCKY

One of Russellville, Kentucky’s most notable figures of the civil rights movement was Alice Allison Dunnigan, a native of Logan County who fiercely fought in the struggle for equal rights. From the very beginning, Dunnigan, a teacher in Kentucky’s segregated schools, fought for improved facilities and resources, going so far as to create learning materials that included the Black history often left out of textbooks.

“She went to segregated schools in Kentucky, a segregated college, which became Kentucky State, and then came back to teach in segregated schools,” said Joseph Clark of the SEEK Museum. “So throughout her life, education was a big part of the stories she wrote and the issues she addressed.”

Dunnigan went on to become the first Black woman to attend White House, Congress and Supreme Court press briefings. And she never took a back seat in those rooms but instead asked poignant questions to raise the public’s consciousness about segregation and Black voting rights.

Dunnigan’s legacy is celebrated at the SEEK Museum’s Payne-Dunnigan House. While walking through the home where she lived for decades, visitors can immerse themselves in the history of her work and the impact of other Kentuckians who fought for civil rights.

SEEKMUSEUM.ORG

MCDONOUGH 19 & WILLIAM FRANTZ ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

SEEK MUSEUM

McDonough 19 and William Frantz Elementary Schools

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward was once home to McDonough 19 Elementary School, the fiery site of the 1960s integration struggle when three first-graders, Leona Tate, Gail Etienne and Tessie Prevost, helped desegregate their school. Although this was years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, many Southern schools had resisted the change. As with most other school integration struggles during the Civil Rights Movement, racists fiercely opposed it. When Tate, Etienne and Prevost first attempted to enter the school, they were heckled and spit on by white protestors. Federal troops were called in as violence grew too intense for the 6-year-olds. On their first day, the girls spent most of their time in the principal’s office before being escorted and confined to a single classroom for the entirety of the school year.

But the story of the McDonogh Three doesn’t end there. After the

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HONORING ACTIVIST EDUCATORS AT THE TEP CENTER Courtesy KY Tourism Courtesy TEP Center Courtesy TEP Center
It All Started Here...in Virginia. Experience it for yourself. virginia.org/blackhistory
Barbara Johns Memorial Statue - Richmond

school building sat vacant for years, Leona Tate’s foundation raised enough money to purchase the facility. Today, the TEP Center is a cornerstone of the Lower 9th Ward community. The mixed-use building provides senior affordable housing, spaces for community groups and a living museum documenting the visual and oral histories of those who lived in the community during the civil rights era through postHurricane Katrina.

Tremaine Knighten-Riley, program director, said The TEP Center recently completed a $16.2 million renovation of historic McDonough 19.

“When folks come, they are initially immersed into the feeling of what Leona, Gail and Tessie experienced,” Knighten-Riley said. Visitors walk up the 18 steps and into the principal’s office exhibit before retracing the student’s efforts from the morning of the integration attempt to their isolating classroom experience on a guided tour that transports visitors back to that time.

A few minutes around the corner was William Frantz Elementary school, where another 6-year-old, Ruby Bridges, integrated into her school as its first Black student. Today, the building is used as a charter school, Akili Academy. Bridges’ legacy is preserved with a courtyard statue and a classroom restored to its original design, available for touring. Visitors wanting to experience the facility should contact the school directly to book a private tour.

TEPCENTER.ORG

AKILIACADEMY.ORG

MCDONOUGH 19 & WILLIAM FRANTZ

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Dorchester Academy

MIDWAY, GEORGIA

Located on the Georgia coast, Midway’s Dorchester Academy was a pillar of Black education during the civil rights movement. Now a museum, it began as a one-room schoolhouse and eventually became a key meeting place for 1960s civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy. Leaders strategized, planned and trained freely at the academy, which also served an integral part in educating Black adults. It’s here that educator Septima Clark helped busloads of adults learn how to read, write and do the math needed to help them pass anti-Black voter registration quizzes. Dorchester also became a safe haven for activists to let their hair down and rest from their tireless work.

DORCHESTER ACADEMY

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Courtesy TEP Center/LTFC Courtesy Explore Georgia — TREMAINE KNIGHTENRILEY, THE TEP
CENTER
“When folks come, they are initially immersed into the feeling of what Leona, Gail and Tessie experienced”

Explore historic sites across South Carolina that pay tribute to the brave men and women who fought against inequality as you learn more about the fight for civil rights in South Carolina on a new podcast, “A Legacy of Courage,” at SCLegacyofCourage.com

The 30-acre campus was a remarkable place for all kinds of education, with students being trained in trades like blacksmithing and carpentry upon graduation. And the school graduated the first class of 12th-graders in the state’s history. But it was a challenging road. Many of Dorchester’s students walked dozens of miles each way to attend school.

Today the academy is a history museum, community center and an upand-coming community educational and research center. Travelers can join weekly guided tours of the grounds or plan a trip around events like the annual Walk to Dorchester, which takes place every Juneteenth in honor of the students who walked and worked hard for their education at a time when it didn’t come so easy.

DORCHESTERACADEMYIA.COM

BRIGGS AND DELAINE FAMILY BIBLES

ORANGEBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA

Years before the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, a district court in South Carolina heard Briggs v. Elliott. In this case, parents and community members in Clarendon County, South Carolina, challenged school segregation. Initially, they petitioned for school buses to take Black children to schools like they took white students too. When the schools failed to consider their request, Harry Briggs and other parents sued R.W. Elliott, the president of the school board. Reverend Joseph DeLaine was a school principal who brought in the NAACP to help and recruited parents to be plaintiffs. While the ruling of the Briggs v. Elliott case only doubled down on separate but equal schools, the case was later brought up again in the Supreme Court when it was combined with others into the Brown v. Board of Education case. The Briggs and DeLaine family Bibles are on display in the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum. These treasured family Bibles reinforce the importance of religion to many who participated in the fight for racial equality.

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Courtesy Explore Georgia A DORMITORY ROOM USED BY MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AT DORCHESTER ACADEMY Courtesy Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum EXTRAORDINARY
Discover the NC historic sites that pioneered the Civil Rights Movement: INTERNATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS CENTER & MUSEUM MLK MEMORIAL GARDEN ESTEY HALL AT SHAW UNIVERSITY FEBRUARY ONE MONUMENT HAYTI HERITAGE CENTER

EXPERIENCE THE MOVEMENT

EDUCATION TOWNS MUSEUMS

THE IDYLLIC TOWN OF HARPERS FERRY WAS THE SITE OF ONE OF AMERICA’S FIRST CLASHES OVER RACIAL EQUALITY.

Above Their Weight

Steeped in the beauty of the Southeast, small towns on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail offer more than scenery and charm; they’re a testament that the smallest places can set the stage for some of the biggest changes.

The historic buildings, monuments and landmarks on the trail were once sites of protests, secret meetings and, sometimes, tragedies that occurred during the civil rights movement. In each city, visitors will find not only history but also inspiration in true stories of courage and leadership.

Travelers looking to delight in historic architecture, nature and diverse cuisine while gaining perspective about one of the nation’s most critical social movements should add these towns to their itineraries.

Small towns played huge roles in the quest for equality
STORIES RESTAURANTS

Selma, Alabama

In 1865, the Battle of Selma in Selma, Alabama, ended in a crushing defeat for the Confederacy as Union soldiers destroyed the Confederacy’s arsenal about a month before the Civil War’s end. One hundred years later, Selma was the site of one of the most significant events in the civil rights movement — Bloody Sunday. To protest the obstacles faced by Black voters and the murder of activist Jimmie Lee Jackson, peaceful demonstrators attempted to march across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge and were met with violence at the hands of state troopers. Footage of the brutal attacks shocked the nation and eventually spurred the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Today, groups traveling to Selma can visit the bridge, one of many important sites on the Civil Rights Trail, and the National Park Service’s nearby interpretive center. Other important sites include the Tabernacle Baptist Church, where the first mass meeting of the voting rights movement was held, and Brown Chapel, the site of preparations for the march from Selma to Montgomery. Fans of the movie “Selma” can see the Jackson House, which was featured in the film and hosted Martin Luther King Jr. when he stayed in town.

One of the most powerful ways for groups to experience Selma’s extensive civil rights history is with the city’s foot soldiers — tour guides who participated in the march when they were students.

“When you meet one of them, they share their experiences of what they experienced during the movement,” said Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Information.

In addition to its many historic landmarks and its featured spot on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, Selma is known for its hospitality and good Southern cooking. Travelers can eat at Lannie’s BBQ, a well-known stop for a hot meal with a side of history.

SELMAALABAMA.COM

EDMUND PETTUS BRIDGE

Sarasota, Florida

In 1927, the winter headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus was moved to Sarasota, Florida. The Ringlings had long been established in Sarasota, and at one point owned as much as a quarter of the town’s land, inextricably linking the history of this Florida beach town with the Greatest Show on Earth. There are nods to the circus’ legacy throughout the city, from the Circus Ring of Fame, where groups can explore the legacies of circus performers, to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which is both the state art museum of Florida and the city’s No. 1 attraction.

Sarasota has another major historical draw to the area: Lido Beach, the southernmost point on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. In the 1950s and ’60s, African Americans were allowed to use less than two miles of Florida’s 2,000 miles of shoreline. Demonstrators began staging “wadeins” at Lido Beach that called national media attention to the issue and advanced the fight against segregation.

“There was a very key victory for Black and brown people when the NAACP asserted its right to the beach,” said Vickie Oldham, local historian and president and CEO of the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition Inc.

Once they’ve taken in Sarasota’s history, travelers can visit the Selby Botanical Gardens, where they’ll see exotic plants from around the world. At the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, they can see and learn about the many species of marine life in Sarasota through interactive exhibits. To enjoy elegantly plated continental fare in the ambience of a historic building, visitors can dine in what was once John Ringling’s office at Café L’Europe. For a more casual atmosphere, they can head to Der Dutchman Restaurant, which serves traditional Amish family recipes and homemade pies.

VISITSARASOTA.COM

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Courtesy Visit Sarasota NEWTOWN CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL Courtesy AL Tourism

VINTAGE CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION PINS

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, an African American history museum in Little Rock, is dedicated to telling the stories of the Mosaic Templars and African Americans in Arkansas, from their struggles against inequality to their everyday lives and triumphs. The center’s artifacts include personal effects of the people who lived during or were inspired by the civil rights movement, from newspaper clippings and magazines to art. The center has several exhibits dedicated to the display of buttons, pins and magnets from important organizations within the movement. One exhibit features an NAACP member pin from 1947, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) member pin from the 1960s and a National Black Convention pin from 1974. These vintage pins demonstrate the importance of membership in Black American organizations uniting to fight for a common goal, as well as how long these organizations have been vital to civil rights causes.

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Courtesy AL Tourism SELMA’S TABERNACLE BAPTIST CHURCH By Art Meripol, courtesy USCRT Courtesy Mosaic Templars Cultural Center
EXTRAORDINARY
BROWN CHAPEL AME CHURCH IN SELMA

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

The picturesque, hilly town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, can be found at the convergence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, surrounded by the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The red brick buildings, lush forests and rushing rivers make Harpers Ferry seem like something out of a storybook, but there’s more to this idyllic town than meets the eye; in 1859, it was the site of the famous raid led by abolitionist John Brown, who attacked the federal armory in an attempt to lead an uprising and end slavery. Harpers Ferry is also home to Storer College, the first school in the state that educated former slaves. This educational institution was where W.E.B. DuBois held the 1906 conference that planted the seed for the formation of the NAACP.

To learn more about Black history in the area, travelers can follow in the Jefferson County African American Heritage Trail. Sites one through 10 on the trail are located in Harpers Ferry, including the fort where John Brown’s attempted raid took place, the John Brown Museum and Storer College, which features three rooms of exhibits. Visitors can also participate in ghost tours of Harpers Ferry for a spookier take on local history.

There are many opportunities to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery of Harpers Ferry. The town marks the halfway point on Appalachian Trail, and travelers can walk a portion of the trail up to Jefferson Rock, an interesting rock formation that overlooks the Shenandoah River. To refuel, visitors can grab something sweet at True Treats Historic Candy, the only historic candy shop in the country. For something more filling, they can grab a bite at the Anvil Restaurant, which serves a variety of seafood and classic dinner staples.

DISCOVERITALLWV.COM

HARPERS FERRY NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

Canton, Mississippi

With a beautiful Greek Revival courthouse as its centerpiece and rows of multicolored buildings surrounding it, the Courthouse Square District in Canton, Mississippi, can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. While its historic square charms visitors, Canton is also home to many historic sites and important figures in the civil rights movement. The city is committed to preserving and highlighting its diverse history, which is why it created the Canton Multicultural Center and Museum, a museum showcasing the cultural heritage of many of Canton’s residents and the causes they advocated for.

“We of course have a very diverse community,” said Jo Ann Gordon, director of the Canton Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We celebrate

CANTON COURTHOUSE

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Courtesy WVDOT Courtesy WVDOT Courtesy Canton CVB HARPERS FERRY SCENERY

many cultures in the area, and in our town, and we have always had the wonderful opportunity to have the African American experience here.”

To learn more about its extensive history in the civil rights movement, groups can take the African American Historical Heritage Driving Tour, which originates in the Canton Welcome Center. From there, a step-on guide will narrate the journey through Canton and the surrounding area, pointing out critical stops on the Civil Rights Trail, such as the Canton Freedom House, where important figures in the movement such as Martin Luther King Jr. organized protests, and the Historic Madison County Courthouse, where demonstrators showed up to register to vote despite the many obstacles placed in their path.

The city has a rich history in the film industry because of the multiple movies shot there and is often referred to as the film capital of Mississippi. Travelers can even visit the original Warner Brothers set of the movie “A Time to Kill” at the Canton Movie Museums. Visitors can round out their itineraries with the variety of fare Canton’s restaurants offer, from traditional Southern cooking to fine dining.

CANTONTOURISM.COM

CANTON MOVIE MUSEUMS

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Courtesy Canton CVB
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DANVILLE VIRGINIA

Danville, Virginia

As the last standing Confederate capital, the quiet city on the Dan River known as Danville, Virginia, was long a source of racial tension. In 1960, Black students staged a sit-in at the Danville Public Library. Rather than allow them to simply do their schoolwork, the library closed altogether. Other protests followed, including the events of Bloody Monday, when demonstrators were met with police brutality.

Today, the same building that once denied entry to its Black citizens is now the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, where an exhibit titled “The Movement” presents testimonies of the protestors who staged the sit-in and depicts the struggles they faced in the oftendangerous fight for equality. Several other notable historic landmarks can be found in Danville, including High Street Baptist Church, where activists organized demonstrations. They can visit the museum and nearby landmarks to learn about the extensive role the city played in the civil rights movement.

History buffs will also appreciate Danville’s AAF Tank Museum, dedicated to showcasing a collection of military tanks and related artifacts from the 16th century to the present. For a range of hands-on exhibits and live demos related to the STEM field, travelers can visit the Danville Science Center, which includes a butterfly garden from April to October.

Danville is home to a number of breweries and wineries for visitors to enjoy, including Ballad Brewing, a craft brewery producing delicious local IPAs and ales. For upscale entrees and waterfront views, visitors can head to Cotton at Riverside Mill on the banks of the Dan River.

EXPERIENCEDPC.COM

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Photos by Jane Lamay, courtesy VTC DANVILLE’S HIGH STREET BAPTIST CHURCH A CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORY MARKER IN DANVILLE

“MY GREATNESS CAME AND STARTED IN LOUISVILLE. ”

- Muhammad Ali

Louisville’s native son, beloved around the world, left a legacy that has reached far beyond the boxing ring. One of the newest stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, the Muhamad Ali Center is an awardwinning museum dedicated to showcasing Ali’s boxing career, humanitarian efforts and larger than life personality.

Learn more at GoToLouisville.com/Ali

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THE SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE DETAILS THE STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPHS OF BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA.

Landmark Stops

These civil rights museums are travel icons

On the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, museums are more than the sum of their artifacts.

With historic exhibits, multimedia presentations and moving experiential programs, museums make learning personal. And institutions dealing with America’s civil rights journey impact many visitors in a deeply personal way.

The museums along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail preserve some of the most important objects, documents and landmarks of the past and present, ensuring history is not forgotten. At the same time, they are also making themselves more accessible with resources like virtual tours and interactive programs.

Here are five significant civil rights museums sure to make a deep impact on travelers.

Courtesy NMAAHC
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Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) is a cultural and educational research center located in Birmingham, Alabama. Since its founding in 1992, the BCRI has been dedicated to educating the public about the civil rights movement and its impact on the world today. The BCRI is committed to conserving the legacy of the civil rights movement, advancing the work of social justice and assuring the fight for equality continues.

Inside the BCRI, visitors will find exhibits that chronicle the civil rights movement in Birmingham and how it affected the entire nation. Highlights include photographs, artifacts and interactive displays such as a statue depicting Rosa Parks sitting on a bus. Visitors can also learn about Birmingham’s history through interactive programs and workshops held at the institute.

“The BCRI offers educational programs for students and adults, including a summer camp and a student leadership program,” said Barry McNealy, historical content expert at the museum.

“We also host a variety of events throughout the year, including lectures, film screenings and special events.”

BCRI.ORG

BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is a powerful and meaningful institution that has been open since 2017. Located in Jackson, Mississippi, the museum is dedicated to keeping and memorializing the significant moments of the civil rights movement in the state while giving special attention to the murders of Medgar Evers and Emmett Till. The museum is a place of learning and reflection, a testament to the resilience and courage of those who fought for civil rights in Mississippi.

The museum is divided into eight galleries, chronologically telling each phase of the state’s history between 1845 and 1976. The galleries feature exhibits on slavery, the Civil War, World War II, the history of segregation and discrimination, the struggle for voting rights, and the fight for justice and equality. The last gallery, titled “Where Do We Go from Here?” encourages the museum’s attendees to reflect on what they saw and learned from the eight galleries.

Guests are also invited to read what Mississippians think about the state’s progress over the years and what still needs to be done. Visitors can also explore these exhibits through interactive displays, audio recordings and video presentations.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum also has a library that includes books, magazines and other materials related to the civil rights movement.

MCRM.MDAH.MS.GOV

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Photos courtesy BCRI Courtesy BCRI A ROSA PARKS EXHIBIT AT THE BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE
Courtesy ATD A STATUE IN KELLY INGRAM PARK NEAR THE BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE Courtesy MS Civil Rights Museum .com one visit, big on little rock. and you’ll be TESTAMENT: THE LITTLE ROCK NINE MONUMENT .com MISSISSIPPI CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM MISSISSIPPI CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM Guests are also invited to read what Mississippians think about the state’s progress over the years and what still needs to be done.

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, preserves the legacy of the 33rd president of the United States and serves as a repository for documents and artifacts related to his life and presidency.

The library holds a variety of documents, including official presidential papers, correspondence, photographs and other materials. Visitors to the library can take a self-guided tour of the museum, which includes exhibits on Truman’s early life, his presidency and his post-presidency years. In addition, the library has an extensive collection of books, periodicals and other materials related to Truman and his presidency.

The Truman Library is included in the U.S. Civil Rights Trail because of President Truman’s efforts to end segregation among the military, as well as his enforcement of anti-lynching laws and ending poll taxes that were used as a tactic to keep Black citizens from voting.

At the museum, visitors will learn about Truman’s personal process of transformation. As a child, the president was taught all races were not equal. He was cited using racial slurs and even working with the Ku Klux Klan during his first run for a political office. Later in his presidency, though, Truman was made aware that Black veterans were being brutally beaten and even lynched. As a veteran himself, Truman found this revelation unconscionable and started a civil rights committee and enforced the equality laws.

TRUMANLIBRARY.ORG

761ST TANK BATTALION EXHIBIT

LOUISIANA

Like virtually every other sphere of life in the early 20th century, the U.S. Army was initially segregated. Black troops were expected to lay down their lives for their country just like white troops while experiencing segregation and discrimination. The 761st Tank Battalion challenged these long-held practices in the army and contributed to its desegregation in 1948. Formed in Louisiana in 1942, this tank battalion was an experimental unit entirely comprising Black soldiers. They fought in France in 1944 and 1945, experiencing 183 days straight of combat and liberating 30 cities on their way to Germany. They were the first African American tankers to see combat and became renowned for their strength and skill in battle. Their efforts directly contributed to the end of World War II. They were known as the Black Panthers, after the animal they chose for their emblem. Today, items from this battalion and an exhibit telling their story are on display at the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum at Camp Beauregard.

LIBRARY

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HARRY S. TRUMAN PRESIDENTIAL courtesy ADT Courtesy HTPL PINEVILLE, Courtesy LA Maneuvers and Military Museum
They were the first African American tankers to see combat and became renowned for their strength and skill in battle.
EXTRAORDINARY

International Civil Rights Center and Museum

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

In 1960, four African American college students in Greensboro, North Carolina, entered an F.W. Woolworth and sat at the whites-only lunch counter, demanding to be served. This event sparked a wave of sit-ins across the country and helped to shape the future of the civil rights movement.

That building is the home of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum (ICRCM). It was created to commemorate that pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. Founded in 2010, the ICRCM is dedicated to those brave students, who had a significant impact on the civil rights movement.

The museum features a variety of exhibits that tell the story of the civil rights movement and its impact. Visitors can explore interactive displays, watch videos and view artifacts from the era. The museum also hosts lectures, workshops and other educational programs.

The ICRCM serves as a reminder that the struggle for civil rights is ongoing and we must continue to work together to ensure all people have equal rights and opportunities. SITINMOVEMENT.ORG

National Museum of African American History and Culture

WASHINGTON, D.C.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Opened in 2016, the museum is dedicated to the documentation of African and African American life, history and culture. The museum is home to more than 37,000 artifacts, including the earliest surviving copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, a segregated Southern Railway car and a Tuskegee Airmen flight suit.

The museum’s permanent exhibitions detail the African American experience from the Middle Passage to the present day. Visitors can explore the history of the civil rights movement, the impact of slavery on the United States and the contributions of African Americans to the nation’s culture and society. The museum also features interactive exhibits, films and educational programs.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is an important resource for understanding the African American experience. Its collections and exhibitions provide insight into the struggles, triumphs and ongoing legacy of African Americans in the United States.

The museum is free to visit, but timed entry tickets are required. NMAAHC.SI.EDU

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NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE Located in the heart of Downtown Louisville! 144 N. 6th Street Louisville, Kentucky alicenter.org REQUEST INFORMATION ABOUT GROUP TOURS! Tours Department 502.992.5340 education@alicenter.org THE
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Enjoy Louisville’s premier cultural museum for inspiration, history, entertainment and more! Explore The Greatest’s legacy— from his humble Louisville roots to his legendary journey as an athlete, social justice advocate, cultural icon, and global humanitarian.
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Creativity.Heritage.Inspiration.

At the heart of America’s inland waterways, you’ll find a sophisticated rivertown that inspires. Paducah, Kentucky, is a confluence of cultural heritage and creativity where art goes beyond something to appreciate – it’s a way of life.

A designated UNESCO Creative City, Paducah is gaining acclaim as a destination for those who crave rich, authentic cultural experiences!

COMES ALIVE History

Walk in the footsteps of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong at the Hotel Metropolitan and African-American Heritage Museum.

Plan your experience at Paducah.travel

1-800-PADUCAH

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RUTHA HARRIS, CENTER, AND HER FREEDOM SINGERS SHARE THE LEGACY OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT THROUGH MUSIC IN ALBANY, GEORGIA.

Living Legacies

Civil rights heroes still share their stories

The civil rights movement is more than just history.

Though the key events in the struggle for civil rights took place in the 1950s and ’60s, the values and convictions behind them are still alive today. And many of the people who participated in the marches, sit-ins, meetings and boycotts are still alive too.

At sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, visitors can meet locals who lived through the movement and hear their perspectives on what took place. Many of their stories have also been recorded and published as part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Podcast.

Here are five stories from the podcast series that will inspire visitors to take their own civil rights journeys.

Courtesy GA DED
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Valda Harris Montgomery MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA

Most people haven’t seen the things a young Valda Harris Montgomery witnessed during the civil rights movement. When she was just 13, a beaten and battered John Lewis showed up at her family’s Montgomery, Alabama, home in need of care and refuge. What would’ve been a shock for most wasn’t for Harris Montgomery because, during the movement, Black people were used to witnessing — or being victims of — racial attacks.

Harris Montgomery inadvertently had a frontline view of the movement, and her father’s work kept her family there. Because he was a fierce supporter of civil rights, Harris had opened his home as a haven and a strategic meeting place for leaders like King, John Lewis, Diane Nash and more. Once, Harris opened the family home to 33 student Freedom Riders, who were attacked during the Montgomery Greyhound Bus Station integration challenge.

Harris owned Dean Drug Store, the city’s oldest Black-owned drug store, where he operated a lunch counter specifically for Black folks to have a safe place to dine. He also provided medical assistance during the historic Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights.

But Harris Montgomery didn’t always recognize the magnitude of what was happening in her home until decades later. King was a good neighbor, who had once knocked on her family’s door covered in bandages after being stabbed. Harris Montgomery’s recent memoir, “Just A Neighbor: A Child’s Memoir of the Civil Right Movement,” details living in the Centennial Hill neighborhood of Montgomery during such a pivotal time in history.

Today the Richard Harris House is a museum and cultural center open for tours by appointment.

EXPERIENCEMONTGOMERYAL.ORG

VALDA HARRIS MONTGOMERY

RUTHA HARRIS

Rutha Harris ALBANY, GEORGIA

Rutha Harris played a unique role in the civil rights movement: using her vocal chords to fight for freedom. Harris is one of the original Freedom Singers (along with Bernice Johnson Reagon, Cordell Reagon and Charles Nesbett), an Albany, Georgia, singing group that existed to educate their people about the movement through song. The group performed at festivals across the country and at the White House. Their most notable performance was at the 1963 March on Washington, long considered a turning point in civil rights history.

Songs like the civil rights classic “Freedom Is a Constant Struggle” were in her powerful repertoire of protest music. Harris once said, “The reason I joined is that I thought I was free, and the reason I thought I was free is because my mother and father had sheltered us [Harris and her siblings] from all of that stuff. So I thought we were free, but we were not free.”

With this realization, Harris began singing for freedom, but her work didn’t end there. She was also active in voter registration drives, marches and mass meetings.

Harris is still doing the work important to Black freedom by leading oral history presentations that give firsthand accounts of her experiences during the Albany movement, using powerful narration and song performances to keep this incredible history alive.

VISITALBANYGA.COM

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Courtesy GA DED

JIM STEWART’S VIOLIN

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

Stax Records, originally founded in Memphis in 1957 as Satellite Records, is perhaps one of the most influential soul and R&B record companies. One of its founders, Jim Stewart, had humble origins in the music industry as a country fiddle player and later decided to branch out into producing records. As a white man, his willingness to work with Black artists made him somewhat of an anomaly within the segregated South. However, this pioneering spirit resulted in great strides in Memphis and the music industry. Stax played a critical role in the creation and development of soul music and R&B, working with greats like Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Ike and Tina Turner, and James Brown to produce a long list of iconic songs. Stewart, who passed away in 2022 at the age of 92, dedicated the vintage violin he played when he first entered the music industry to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, where it’s now on display.

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S T OOD MEMPHISTRAVEL.COM EXTRAORDINARY
Courtesy STAX Museum
TA N D WHERE UPSTAND E RS

Joan Garner BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA

Joan Garner is a tour guide at the West Baton Rouge Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and her job is much deeper than a passionate pastime. Garner continues the impactful work of her father, John Garner, one of the Southern University student leaders who participated in Baton Rouge’s groundbreaking lunch counter sit-ins at Kress Department Store. John Garner was named in a lawsuit — Garner v. State of Louisiana — where the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that nonviolent civil rights protestors could not be prosecuted for disturbing the peace.

Today, Joan Garner is working tirelessly to right the wrongs of the past.

“For me, it’s about legacy,” she said. “It’s all about legacy.” And Garner doesn’t take her family’s legacy lightly. She wants it to be known the course of her father’s life changed forever, impacting his education and career path.

“The students were actually expelled from the school or suspended indefinitely, so in 2004 Southern University issued honorary degrees to these students,” she explained. “In my father’s case, he received an honorary law degree, but he didn’t ask for that. What he was actually asking for was an apology.” That apology still hasn’t come.

Joan Garner remains committed to telling the stories of the sit-ins and does so through lectures at the West Baton Rouge Museum. She’s also working on projects like preserving a historic cemetery for formerly enslaved people and restorative justice initiatives.

VISITBATONROUGE.COM

Percy Green III ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

When Percy Green III climbed to the top of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch on July 14, 1964, he wasn’t concerned about making history. He was standing up for his people. But his decision to climb the arch to protest racial discrimination was monumental for the movement.

In the words of Green, “we were not concerned or conscious of making history. We were trying to be effective in our protest to expose racial discrimination on a federally funded project.” No Black people were employed as workers or contractors on the building of the Gateway Arch.

Green was a member of the city’s CORE (Committee on Racial Equality), a national civil rights organization, before leaving to form his group, ACTION (Action Council to Improve Opportunities for Negroes). He believed it was necessary to create a St. Louis-specific organization that focused on addressing issues and taking action against the inequalities in their communities.

Green’s militant approach was strategic, often organizing protests he knew would generate a buzz and bring media attention to the systemic racism Black people were facing. “We didn’t have the tools that protestors do today,” he said. “Social media is powerful. I wish I had it at the time, but during that time we did well with what we had. We had to play jujitsu with the news media.”

PERCY GREEN III

Today, he remains supportive of the protest movements continuing to happen and believes they’re needed to make the changes necessary. “I’m still an active participant in various ways of support [like] counseling the younger who want to know what it was like back then [and] sharing with them the strategies and tactics that we used.”

EXPLORESTLOUIS.COM

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Photos courtesy Joan Garner Courtesy MO SHS JOAN GARNER

Located

The Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit, membership organization, dedicated to the economic empowerment of African American communities and small businesses

“We didn’t have the tools that protestors do today. Social media is powerful. I wish I had it at the time, but during that time we did well with what we had. We had to play jujitsu with the news media.”

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JOHN GARNER ON THE POLICE FORCE JOHN GARNER — PERCY GREEN III
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Follow Your Heart

Clinton 12

CLINTON, TENNESSEE

It was 1956 when 12 courageous Black students integrated an all-white high school in the small east Tennessee town of Clinton, making history as the first desegregated public high school in the South. Before the monumental event, Black students weren’t allowed to attend school in the county and had to travel over 40 miles to Knoxville. They’d registered successfully to enroll in the school, but their actual journey inside the walls of Clinton High School didn’t come as quickly, and just a few days later, things worsened.

Trace the Paths They Walked

From the Emmett Till story that began at Bryant’s Grocery to the “Black Power” speech made by Stokely Carmichael at Broad Street Park, Greenwood witnessed firsthand a slow, but certain shift in the winds of justice. It was a gathering spirit of hope, promise and determination that awakened the nation and mobilized the American Civil Rights Movement

We welcome group tours and invite you to learn more about our ties to this monumental movement.

Find your beat from the Heart of the Delta: Greenwood, Mississippi.

John Kasper, a known Ku Klux Klan member, caught wind of the integration news and came to town and went door-to-door to stir up outrage in the Clinton white community. Just days after, the Clinton 12 stood atop the hill, prayed for their safety and made their way to the front doors.

Joann Boyce, a then-junior, recalls that morning: “We were on pins and needles. How are we going to be accepted when we go down the hill? How will we be accepted when we go inside the school?

“The pledge we made was that we’re going to walk down the hill. We’re going to walk with our heads held high, and we are going to show bravery, and that’s exactly what we did.”

In the face of their bravery, the Clinton 12 were met with progressively worse aggression from white adult protestors, who harassed and assaulted them outside of school and students who taunted them inside the school. But they kept going in pursuit of equal education.

The Clinton 12 integration is often overlooked throughout similar historical events like Arkansas’ Little Rock Nine, which happened a year later. Still, Clinton is crucial to Tennessee and U.S. history, too.

Travelers can visit the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton, where 12 life-size bronze statues commemorate the Clinton 12. Inside the center is a museum full of exhibitions that re-create what it would have been like to attend high school during that period. There are replica classrooms, an exhibit on the school’s bombing and a documentary from the civil rights era.

ADVENTUREANDERSON.COM

CLINTON 12
Courtesy Green McAdoo Cultural Center A CLINTON 12 EXHIBIT AT THE GREEN MCADOO CULTURAL CENTER
GREENWOOD, MISSISSIPPI
Emmett Till Statue
Bryant’s Grocery 1955 f : Travelgreenwoodms l : @travelgreenwood GREENWOOD CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU 225 Howard St., P.O. Drawer 739 Greenwood, MS 38935 PH: (662) 453-9197 VISITGREENWOOD.COM

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PATRICE BATES THOMPSON KEEPS A NEIGHBORHOOD SOUL FOOD LEGACY ALIVE AT THE FOUR WAY IN MEMPHIS.

Food for Thought

Enjoy iconic restaurants on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail

Food is the unofficial love language of the Black family.

Meals cultivate community, nourish the soul, create connections and preserve traditions. But food has also played a pivotal part in the struggle for Black equality. In the United States, civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. would meet up with other activists to discuss the day’s events after marches over generous portions of soul food from the few restaurants that were safe havens. The term “soul food” itself emerged from a desire to reconnect with the diaspora through Southern and African-influenced cuisine.

Today, several Black-owned restaurants continue to serve up sumptuous meals while honoring the past and Black heritage. Here are some notable dining establishments travelers can enjoy while visiting cities on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

courtesy The Four Way
STORIES RESTAURANTS

Magnolia House GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

During the period of racial segregation in America, African Americans were not allowed to share accommodations, eating or drinking facilities with Caucasians. The “Negro Motorist Green Book” became a critical resource for Black travelers. Within its pages was a comprehensive list of hotels, restaurants, gas stations, barber shops, drug stores and other amenities that were available to African American travelers. One of those safe spaces in the guide was the Magnolia House, a hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina, and one of the few green book sites for those shuttling between Atlanta and Richmond. Among those seeking refuge at the Magnolia House were prominent writers, artists, musicians, actors, and athletes, including James Brown, Joe Tex, Tina Turner, Jackie Robinson, James Baldwin, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles. Nods to their famous guests are peppered throughout the property’s programming.

“One of the biggest things that Magnolia House does is promote the idea of music and jazz, because we had so many musicians traveling and spending time here,” said Yvon’ne Lyle, the restaurant’s social media coordinator. “They would come and play music, eat and just play for the guests. So we continue to do that. We have events, we have live jazz music, and we have partnerships with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where their jazz groups will come and play music, especially during Black History Month.”

Another ode to the greats lies in their soul food-heavy menu. The Catch 42 is a play on the number worn by baseball star Jackie Robinson, who broke the sport’s color barrier in 1947. The Southern-inspired meal features fried catch of the day, creamy grits, tomato, lemon oil and fresh herbs. The Gladys is the namesake of the “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight. The fried chicken biscuit served with local hot honey butter was the go-to order of the famed songstress. James Baldwin’s favorite meal of New York strip steak, soft scrambled farmers’ eggs with cheese, and fingerling potatoes is also a consistent crowd-pleaser.

THEHISTORICMAGNOLIAHOUSE.ORG

HISTORIC MAGNOLIA HOUSE

Shirley Mae’s Café

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

Fresh food has always been Shirley Mae’s competitive edge. It’s why the café that sits at the corner of Clay and Lampton streets in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, features an open kitchen that allows customers to see behind the scenes of their food preparation. This transparency, coupled with made-to-order soul food like Southern fried chicken wings, barbecued ribs and meatloaf, is a major part of the café’s charm.

But proprietress Shirley Mae Beard is as well known for her contributions to Black history and its preservation as she is for her hot water cornbread. Most notable is her commitment to honoring Black jockeys in the city and state at the center of one of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world: the Kentucky Derby. Black horsemen were once a dominant force at the Derby, making up 13 of 15 riders at the first running in 1875 — and won by Black jockey Oliver Lewis — and winning 15 of the first 28 runnings of the equine event. As Kentucky ramped up segregation laws in the 1890s, Black riders were systematically barred from the sport.

After discovering the accomplishments of these hidden figures in a set of World Book Encyclopedias, Beard, with the help of her children, made it her mission to educate the masses. The Salute to Black Jockey event was born in May 1989, with photos of the riders covering the café walls and the introduction of what is billed as the “largest inner-city carnival in the commonwealth of Kentucky.” The annual event is a popular draw, prompting visits from Academy Award-winning actors Whoopi Goldberg and Morgan Freeman.

Shirley Mae’s has been operating on a carry-out basis since the start of the pandemic, as a safety precaution and to minimize contact with the now 82-year-old matriarch. But the beloved local institution is gearing up to welcome diners back for the homecooked meals they have come to crave.

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SHIRLEYMAESCAFE.COM
Photos courtesy Historic Magnolia House

Shirley Mae Beard

is as well known for her contributions to Black history as she is for her hot water cornbread.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DOCUMENTS

ATLANTA

Few figures in the civil rights movement are more recognizable than Martin Luther King Jr. King was emblematic of the movement during the 1950s and ’60s, providing leadership, courage and wisdom that inspired individuals of many races and backgrounds to fight for equality and cling to hope for a just world. His speeches and sermons, such as the famous “I Have A Dream” speech, were catalysts for social change and racial equality, even after his 1968 assassination in Memphis. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta houses an exhibition called “Voice to the Voiceless,” which features artifacts of King’s from the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. The exhibition includes some of King’s papers and letters, 1,100 books from his personal library and an art installation featuring a backlit display of his unique handwriting stretching 38 feet across 50 metal panels, titled “Fragments.”

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MIDCENTURY DECOR AT GREENSBORO’S HISTORIC MAGNOLIA HOUSE SHIRLEY MAE’S CAFE
EXTRAORDINARY

The Four Way Soul Food Restaurant

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

Irene and Clint Cleaves opened the Four Way Grill in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1946 with one goal: to serve the best soul food in the city. Clint, a driver for former Memphis Mayor E.H. Crump, worked with his wife Irene to develop the eatery from a small, unassuming counter tucked into a pool hall to a full-scale dining area. In the turbulent civil rights era, The Four Way became one of the few dining establishments where Black and white customers could break bread together. Word quickly spread of the flavorful, well-seasoned fare in the aptly named Soulsville neighborhood, and everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Elvis Presley and B.B. King came through the doors.

As Black people fought for equal rights and social justice, churches and restaurants became safe spaces for their organizing efforts, and the Four Way was an integral part of the movement. Dr. King was said to be partial to Irene’s fried catfish, fried chicken and peach cobbler during his stops in the city.

Both Clint and Irene have passed on, but their legacy in the city renowned for its roots in blues, soul, and rock ’n’ roll is unassailable. Local son Willie Bates and a partner purchased the iconic restaurant in 2001, and since his death in 2016, his daughter Patrice Bates Thompson has kept the spirit of the legendary establishment alive and flourishing. Their fried entrees are still the heart and soul of the menu, with thick slabs of cornmeal-crusted catfish, crunchy fried chicken and perfectly battered countryfried steak smothered in gravy.

FOURWAY901.COM

SOUL FOOD TWIST

THE FOUR WAY SOUL FOOD RESTAURANT

Soul Food Twist

HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA

Chef Joanna “Jojo” Williams remembers vividly when the first seeds of a culinary future were planted.

“I used to always watch my daddy cook his mac and cheese and help my mother peel fresh potatoes for the potato salad,” Williams said. She was determined to one day have a food truck or restaurant of her own, as she honed her skills at the popular restaurant chain Waffle House. Williams took the first steps toward realizing that goal four years ago when she began cooking out of her Huntington, West Virginia, home.

Her opportunity came at what might seem to some like a decidedly inopportune time: during the COVID-19 pandemic. She opened her restaurant Soul Food Twist when other establishments were closing, and it flourished amidst the chaos. Williams attributes her success to the element of surprise.

“What makes us [different from] any other soul food restaurant is the name itself, because I always throw a twist out,” she said.

The menu changes constantly, with new options added daily. But even with a menu in a state of flux, there are some surefire standouts.

“The [meal] people must try when they come to my location is the barbecue meatballs and smoked pull pork,” Williams said. She also recommended their succulent salmon, which is paired with a creamy alfredo pasta, tender smoked ribs and the signature “mac attack,” which has been voted among the top 10 best dishes in Huntington for three years.

FACEBOOK.COM/SOULFOODJOJO

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Courtesy Soul Food Twist Shanksy, courtesy The Four Way

A TOUR PLANNER’S GUIDE TO HISTORY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD.

you.

Mama J’s Kitchen RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

A trip to Mama J’s Kitchen is akin to Sunday dinners at grandma’s house: filled with warmth, love and good food. It’s a replication of Velma Johnson’s — known locally as Mama J — upbringing as one of 14 children in the West End neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia. Johnson grew up sharing the kitchen with her mom and grandmother as they prepared their customary large Sunday dinners. During these formative years, she not only acquired culinary skills but also learned the secrets and nuances of family recipes that now make up the restaurant’s menu. But Mama J’s is not just a rich, soul food dining experience. It is also a key part of a redevelopment of Historic Jackson Ward, one of America’s oldest districts and once a bustling center of African American commerce and entrepreneurship. The Richmond area once known as the “Harlem of the South” was a response to Jim Crow laws limiting where Black residents were allowed to live. Black people had no choice but to create their own community spaces with banks, restaurants and other businesses. Jackson Ward’s music scene also

MAMA J’S KITCHEN

thrived as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and James Brown became regulars at the Hippodrome Theater. Unfortunately, redlining and other discriminatory policies would lead to the eventual downfall of the vibrant district.

When Johnson’s eldest son, Lester, and his best friend, Jonathan Mayo, saw an opportunity to help lead the renaissance of Jackson Ward decades later, they knew that Mama J’s comfort food was the recipe they needed. With a menu featuring an assortment of meats, fresh-fromthe-oven cornbread and decadent peach cobbler, it’s hard to disagree.

MAMAJSKITCHEN.COM

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Photos courtesy VTC MAMA J’S KITCHEN IN ONE OF RICHMOND’S HISTORICALLY BLACK NEIGHBORHOODS

EVERY SECOND SATURDAY EACH MONTH,

VISIT THE CITY WHERE VOICES

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.

WHERE history AND nature flow

——————————————————

VISITALBANYGA.COM
the Albany Civil Rights Institute Freedom Singers narrate Albany Movement stories with dynamic testimony and emotionally-charged performances.
CONTINUE THE JOURNEY. FOLLOW THE TRAIL. U.S. CIVIL RIGHTS TRAIL MARKETING ALLIANCE, LLC. ALABAMA | ARKANSAS | FLORIDA | GEORGIA | KANSAS | KENTUCKY | LOUISIANA | MISSISSIPPI MISSOURI | NORTH CAROLINA | SOUTH CAROLINA | TENNESSEE | VIRGINIA | WEST VIRGINIA CIVILRIGHTSTRAIL.COM

Articles inside

MAMA J’S KITCHEN

1min
pages 58-59

SOUL FOOD TWIST

1min
pages 56-58

The Four Way Soul Food Restaurant

1min
page 56

HISTORIC MAGNOLIA HOUSE

2min
pages 54-55

Food for Thought

2min
pages 53-54

Follow Your Heart

1min
pages 50, 52

PERCY GREEN III

1min
pages 48-49

VALDA HARRIS MONTGOMERY

3min
pages 46-48

Living Legacies

1min
pages 45-46

LIBRARY

1min
pages 40-42

BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE

2min
pages 38-40

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

1min
page 38

Landmark Stops

1min
page 37

DANVILLE VIRGINIA

1min
page 34

CANTON COURTHOUSE

1min
pages 30-32

EDMUND PETTUS BRIDGE

3min
pages 28-30

Above Their Weight

1min
pages 27-28

DORCHESTER ACADEMY

1min
pages 22-24, 26

SEEK MUSEUM

2min
pages 20-22

SEEK Museum

1min
page 20

Central High School

2min
page 18

A Birthright to Learn

1min
page 17

The experience is unforgettable . Because the lessons should never be forgotten .

3min
pages 9-10, 13

Of Faith and Foot Soldiers

1min
page 8

CIVIL RIGHTS TIMELINE MOVEMENT

1min
pages 6-7

What happened here changed the world.

1min
pages 5-6
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