US Civil Rights Trail
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks in the Southern States where activists challenged segregation during the 1950s and 60s to advance social justice.
Embark on a journey of meaningful discovery and memories, where the past will enrich the present and inspire the future. Learn how Selma, Alabama, became the center of a decisive shift in the American conscience or stand where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged the masses and inspired millions. Walk where the oppressed marched against their oppressors and explore the museums that preserve their legacy. Bear witness to the destinations and landmarks that defined the settings of the American civil rights story.
Places where activists successfully sought equal access to public education, public transportation and voting rights comprise many of the locations grouped under the theme “What happened here changed the world.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most visible leader of the movement, is represented in several states. His first church in Montgomery, Alabama, is where he led the successful bus boycott after the arrest of Rosa Parks. The Memphis church where he gave his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech the night before his assassination at the Lorraine Motel is a popular destination. The motel, expanded into the National Civil Rights Museum, is the most visited restored civil rights landmark in America. The Memphis museum will be the focus for the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. King during 2018.
Key Places of Interest on the Civil Rights Trail
National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel is the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while in town to support black sanitation workers demands for fair wages. Exhibits range from the arrest of Rosa Parks and other major events during the civil rights period to contemporary topics. This is the most visited civil rights museum in America.
At the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute you can take a self-guided tour of this multimedia museum that features 58,000 square feet of exhibits, archives, galleries and community rooms.
16th Street Baptist Church is still an active church in the Birmingham community despite its tragic past. In 1963, the church was bombed, resulting in the death of four young black girls. This event galvanised the federal government to take action on civil rights legislation.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge/Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail is a National Historic Landmark and the site of the brutal Bloody Sunday beatings of civil rights marchers during the first march for voting rights.
Civil Rights Memorial is a moving tribute to those who died in the civil rights struggle between 1954 and 1968.
Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church is the first church where Dr. King was a pastor and where meetings to organise the Montgomery Bus Boycott took place and which the U.S. Supreme Court eventually supported.
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the only state-sponsored civil rights museum in the nation, and the adjoining Museum of Mississippi History opened December 2017 to celebrate the state’s bicentennial.
Visit the Medgar Evers Home Museum and assassination site of the first NAACP field secretary and prominent civil rights activist and organiser.
The Louisville Downtown Civil Rights Trail on 4th Street highlights eleven markers at former business locations representing civil rights demonstration spots and serves as a history lesson for Louisville, including the Muhammad Ali Center.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
In 1953 Baton Rouge was the site of the first bus boycott by African Americans of the civil rights movement.
For details of the dozens of sites and interviews with foot soldiers and tour guides at some of the landmarks, visit civilrightstrail.com.