Check out these state civil rights trails for even more sites your group can explore.
Georgia Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Trail
The Georgia Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Trail was launched in 2018 as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of King’s death. Designed to commemorate and celebrate the life, work and legacy of this civil rights icon, the trail also aims to educate and inspire those who embark upon it to better understand the civil rights movement in the state.
There are 28 stops along the trail, most of which are in Atlanta, King’s former home. Here you will find several markers at entities in the Sweet Auburn Historic District. They include the Big Bethel A.M.E. Church; Rush Memorial Congregational Church; the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change; Ebenezer Baptist Church; the Apex Museum, located in the historic Atlanta School Book Depository; and, of course, the King Birth Home, among others.
Other trail markers in Atlanta include Rush Memorial Congregational Church, South-View Cemetery, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, and Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library.
Peppered across the state there’s Floyd Chapel Baptist Church in Stockbridge; Rocky Mount Baptist Church in Rex; Prince Hall Masonic Temple in Columbus; the Dorchester Academy and Museum in Midway; the Albany Civil Rights Institute and Shiloh Baptist Church in Albany; First African Baptist Church and the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum in Savannah; and the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument Park and First African Baptist Church in Dublin.
Louisville Downtown Civil Rights Trail
Renowned African American sculptor Ed Hamilton created all 11 of the historical markers on the Louisville Downtown Civil Rights Trail. Placing the markers around downtown is significant in that it was here, primarily along the Fourth Street Corridor, that the majority of the city’s eateries, shops and department stores, entertainment venues and theaters were located.
As was common during the 1950s and 1960s, Blacks were either denied entrance or horribly mistreated when patronizing these businesses. The efforts against this outright exclusion and discrimination included campaigns to unseat unscrupulous city leaders, protest marches, sit-ins, mass student demonstrations and other pushes for civil rights actions.
Opened to the public in 2013, 50 years after the passage of the local public accommodations law, which made it unlawful for anyone to be refused service in a public place because of race, color, religion or national origin, the trail encompasses markers placed where there were once office buildings, hotels, department stores, theaters and other businesses. Although some still exist, over the decades many have been relocated, closed down or demolished. The trail markers also share the story of the numerous African Americans who played significant roles in the effort to end racism and segregation in Louisville.
Perhaps the most high-profile location along the trail is the Muhammad Ali Center, dedicated to the life and legacy of this global sports icon, humanitarian, philanthropist and native Louisville son.
Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
Many people are aware of the historic 1965 march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery led by a fiery 25-year-old activist and future U.S. congressman named John Lewis. When the peaceful protestors attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, they were viciously attacked by law enforcement. That day earned the nickname Bloody Sunday.
What the history books don’t often reveal are the stories behind the pivotal stops along the 54-mile journey that began once again on March 21. Those stories are highlighted on Alabama’s Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.
Along the way were four campsites. The David Hall Farm, the first stop, approximately seven miles in, provided tents, medical attention, volunteer security guards and meals for the marchers. The Rosie Steele Property belonged to its namesake, a Black filling station and grocery store owner who offered her property as a place of respite for the night. Upon arrival at the Robert Gardner Farm, the marchers ate meals provided by students from Tuskegee Institute. And by the time they reached the City of St. Jude campsite, the group of 600 protestors had swelled to well over 12,000 people.
On March 25, the marchers arrived in Montgomery at the Alabama State Capitol. Here, the crowd, estimated at somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 people, heard speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other influential civil rights leaders. As a result of the extraordinary efforts, time and energy of a great many people — Blacks, whites and others — the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law a few months later.
North Carolina Civil Rights Trail
Several locations in North Carolina became major launching pads in the fight for racial equality and justice for women and people of color throughout the civil rights movement. From large cities to small rural towns, a great many citizens stepped up to the plate, creating their own place in history for generations to follow.
Excitement abounds around the North Carolina Civil Rights Trail, which is now in the midst of a rollout that will last until 2023. During this time, 50 historical markers will be placed across the state to commemorate the groundbreaking events that took place, as well as the people involved in the movement. Leading the initiative is the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, in partnership with the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, and Visit North Carolina.
The trail is much more than a general tracing of notable civil rights movement locations, events and activists. It is being designed to provide extensive and comprehensive insights into and between both well-known and unsung communities across the state, as well as to those connected to the overall history of the movement nationally.
When the trail is completed, in addition to the 50 historical markers, it will also encompass approximately 150 notable sites, an interactive web portal and a Digital Geographic Information System map.
Mississippi Freedom Trail
Freedom Rides. From the Capital/River area to the Delta, Hills and Coast, this trail features some of the most pivotal people, sites and events in the fight for racial equality and justice.
For example, in downtown Jackson, there is the Greyhound Bus Station Marker that commemorates where the third group of Freedom Riders arrived in town. On the grounds of the courthouse in Canton, the Madison County Movement Marker shares the story of three activists that opened an office to register Black voters, created Freedom Schools and staged a boycott.
The Marks Mule Train and Poor People’s Campaign Marker stands in tribute to when Martin Luther King Jr. visited that city in March 1968 to organize a march in support of anti-poverty projects. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference continued the work a month after King’s assassination.
In April 1960, 125 people waded into the water along segregated Biloxi Beach to protest the exclusion of Blacks. Their peaceful defiance is memorialized on the Biloxi Beach Wade-In Marker. And in Ruleville, there’s the Fannie Lou Hamer Marker in the park by the same name — a lifesize statue and her gravesite are also there — celebrating the life of this civil rights activist and delegate of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention