States that once defended segregation during the Jim Crow era are now uniting to promote civil rights tourism through a joint effort called the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
For decades, individual states advertised their own Black history sites. This is the first time that they are promoting those sites as a group, Lee Sentell, Alabama’s tourism director, told the Associated Press. “Everyone wants to showcase their landmarks. For the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, we’re saying ‘What happened here changed the world,'” Sentell added.
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail incorporates 14 states, from Kansas to Delaware, that are featuring a total of 130 sites associated with the civil rights movement.
Here are a few of the featured landmarks:
Woolworth’s, Greensboro, North Carolina
Lunch counter sit-in protests began at this former Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina. In February 1960, four Black students from North Carolina A&T State University took vacant seats at the “Whites Only” lunch counter and sparked a wave of sit-ins.
Lorraine Hotel, Memphis, Tennessee
This site where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on April 4, 1968 will draw a lot of visitors on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. It was once a Whites-only hotel that became a Black establishment that hosted famous African-American musicians, including Count Basie and Nat King Cole.
Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas
In 1957, the nation’s eyes were fixed on this once obscure Arkansas high school that has become a symbol in the battle for school desegregation. Federal troops were called in to prevent a White mob from attacking nine African-American students who integrated the school.
Brown vs. Board of Education Historic Site, Topeka, Kansas
The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was established to commemorate the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1954 that led to school desegregation.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham, Alabama
This site displays the actual jail bars that held Martin Luther King Jr. when he wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963.