Culture, Music, Sport and Festivals

Follow in the Footsteps: The US Civil Rights Trail

Rebecca Harley

25th March 2024

Davidson County Courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee

The United States has a storied past, and nowhere in the country is that more evident than the Deep South, the scene of both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.

There’s no better way to fully immerse yourself in the latter’s history than with a journey along the US Civil Rights Trail. Shocking and inspiring in equal measures, this route passes churches, courthouses, schools, museums, and other landmarks pivotal in bringing about monumental social change during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

We’ve highlighted below some of the most interesting locations to visit during your time in the Southern states to gain greater insight into this tumultuous period in history. For those passing through Montgomery, Alabama, you will even have the incredible opportunity to learn first-hand from the surviving foot soldiers, who marched for freedom, about what life was like during that time – just speak to one of our travel experts when booking your holiday.

Memphis, Tennessee

The National Civil Rights Museum is located at the Lorraine Motel, where civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Explore a range of interactive exhibits that will help you to understand more about this tumultuous period in history.

Birmingham, Alabama

Take a self-guided tour through the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute which aims to preserve the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The comprehensive multi-media exhibitions highlight the struggle for equality that was faced by Black Americans.

If you’re in Birmingham on a Sunday morning, it’s possible to attend a service at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The 1963 bombing of this church during a Sunday service ultimately resulted in the federal government passing the Civil Rights Act.

Image of the 16th Street Baptist Church courtesy of Alabama Tourism

Montgomery, Alabama

Take a moment to reflect at the Civil Rights Memorial which names the 41 people who were killed during the civil rights movement between 1954 and 1968.

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was renamed Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in honour of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a pastor here between 1954 and 1960. The church was used as a meeting place to organise the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, a protest against racial segregation on public transport, which was sparked by the arrest of a woman named Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a bus.

Nashville, Tennessee

Visit Davidson County Courthouse, the location of a silent march in 1960, which resulted in Nashville Mayor, Ben West, acknowledging that segregation was immoral and that the city’s lunch counters should be integrated. This was the first step towards desegregating public accommodations, such as restaurants, theatres, and retail stores.

If you’d like to discover more of the fascinating history of US Civil Rights, browse our range of tailormade holidays to the Deep South,

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