Editor’s observe: This submit has been up to date with new data. It was initially revealed in February 2021.
“We aren’t makers of historical past. We’re made by historical past.”
― Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The combat for civil rights throughout the Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties is such a big a part of the American narrative that the sooner struggles for racial equality will not be totally appreciated. That is very true when taking a look at civil rights via the lens of the Black Lives Matter protests.
To grasp what the civil rights motion completed, you should stroll within the footsteps of those that fought for freedom and experience the civil rights struggle where history was made.
The U.S. Civil Rights Path was created in 2018 to protect and share the historical past of probably the most transformative instances in America’s story. The path crosses 15 predominantly Southern states and Washington, D.C., the place pivotal battles for civil rights befell.
The path is expansive; you have to to journey by street, rail or airplane to start your historic experiences. There are greater than 100 areas from Kansas to Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and up via the Carolinas to Delaware, the place you’ll be able to discover and expertise key moments within the civil rights motion.
Listed below are just some noteworthy locations to think about in your Civil Rights Path journey.
Birmingham is credited for the rise of the civil rights motion due to a vital occasion on Sept. 15, 1963: the bombing of the sixteenth Road Baptist Church.
The explosion killed 4 younger Black ladies who had been attending Sunday college. Paradoxically, the Sunday college lesson that day was titled, “A Love That Forgives.”
The church bombing, which occurred three weeks after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., rocked the nation and galvanized civil rights activists.
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At this time, the 16th Street Baptist Church stays an energetic church, and its basement is a museum that honors the 4 little ladies. The museum additionally tells the church’s story from its institution in 1873. Its centerpiece is the Expertise Room, which accommodates a clock that stopped at 10:22 a.m. — the precise time of the blast.
Immediately throughout from the church are two different stops on the Civil Rights Path: the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Kelly Ingram Park.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a contemporary museum devoted to sustaining the story of the civil rights motion in Birmingham and Alabama. The Institute homes many artifacts, together with the door of the jail cell that held Martin Luther King Jr.
Kelly Ingram Park was a staging space for quite a few demonstrations in Birmingham led by King, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and others.
At this time, the park is a sculpture backyard that shows highly effective paintings to inform emotionally charged tales about Birmingham’s civil rights motion.
Different Civil Rights Path markers in Alabama embody the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma — the positioning of “Bloody Sunday,” the brutal beatings of voting rights marchers.
The bridge was named after the previous Accomplice brigadier basic, U.S. senator and head of Alabama’s Ku Klux Klan, and it stays a vivid reminder of Jim Crow. Not too long ago, the stays of civil rights icon John Lewis had been carried throughout this identical construction the place he almost misplaced his life on Bloody Sunday.
In Montgomery, you’ll discover the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The memorial shows 805 hanging metal rectangles representing counties in the USA the place a lynching was documented.
Additionally in Montgomery, a museum devoted to Rosa Parks sits on the website of her famed arrest on the bus.
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The historic Treme neighborhood in New Orleans, lately made well-known by an HBO sequence of the identical title, is on the Civil Rights Path.
Treme is the nation’s oldest African American neighborhood. It is also a neighborhood the place free individuals of coloration might buy land throughout the 18th and nineteenth centuries when the nation was nonetheless immersed in slavery.
Many museums are devoted to African American life and tradition. Simply steps from the French Quarter, Louis Armstrong Park is a public park that honors the jazz nice.
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A cease alongside the Civil Rights Path in Atlanta showcases the birthplace and burial grounds of civil rights chief Martin Luther King Jr. Vacationers can go to King’s childhood house and pay respects to him at his burial website on the King Center.
You possibly can observe the Freedom Path, which acknowledges individuals and locations that had a major position within the civil rights motion. It was created in 2011 to offer a roadmap to Mississippi’s civil rights historical past.
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson is the one museum within the state that covers the complete civil rights motion. Opened in 2017, it provides specific consideration to the murders of Medgar Evers and Emmett Until.
Close to the banks of Mississippi sits the Nationwide Civil Rights Museum on the former Lorraine Motel, the place Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Clinton Excessive Faculty in Clinton, Tennessee, can also be an necessary website. It commemorates the Clinton 12 — a bunch of African American college students — who attended their first day of sophistication on Aug. 26, 1956, following the U.S. Supreme Courtroom ruling in Brown vs. Board of Schooling.
Whereas Clinton Excessive Faculty turned the primary public highschool within the South to be built-in, it was not a clean transition with protesters and riots, and the college was bombed after hours a yr later.
The Clinton 12 are commemorated with life-size bronze statues that stand in entrance of the Inexperienced McAdoo Cultural Heart on the town.
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A more recent addition to the Civil Rights Path is the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, which is important to the Civil Warfare, in addition to the Civil Rights motion.
This Danville website joins Farmville and Richmond as one in all three designated path websites in Virginia. Often known as “the final capital of the Confederacy” within the Nineteen Sixties, Danville was house to among the most violent clashes in Civil Rights historical past.
The Accomplice mansion, turned public library, is now the Museum, and in 1960 a bunch of protesters staged a sit-in on the library. Slightly than admit Black guests, Danville officers selected to shut the library.
Different demonstrations for racial equality adopted, and all had been met with sturdy resistance, with the summer season of 1963 being the worst of the clashes.
The District of Columbia was not a battleground within the battle for civil rights. Nevertheless, there have been fights for civil rights that befell within the U.S. Supreme Courtroom, most notably the seminal determination in Brown vs. Board of Schooling that made college segregation unlawful.
The Lincoln Memorial can also be the place Martin Luther King Jr. gave his well-known “I Have a Dream” speech throughout the March on Washington — one of many largest human rights protests in American historical past. There’s a marble marker on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial the place King stood.
You’ll discover the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Nationwide Museum of African American Historical past and Tradition alongside the Nationwide Mall. This Smithsonian museum is the one nationwide museum devoted totally to the African American expertise.
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There are notable monuments, museums and markers in different states alongside the Civil Rights Path that shouldn’t be neglected. Missouri, Kansas, the Carolinas, Delaware, Florida, Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia all performed an necessary position within the civil rights struggles.
The Civil Rights Path continues to develop as a result of new locations and sights are continually added.
It’s price retracing the trail of “good hassle” to understand what leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis completed. We should expertise the teachings of the previous to allow them to be preserved for the long run.