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USA: Civil Rights Trail

A new trail across the Deep South takes in historic landmarks of the American Civil Rights Movement

By Sarah Barrell
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:21 BST, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 13:43 BST
Edmund Pettus Bridge

Edmund Pettus Bridge

Photograph by Getty Images

This January, it's 155 years since President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the American South. With the debate over southern history raging on with the removal of Confederate monuments, a new trail launching this month focuses on some 80 famous, infamous and lesser-known Civil Rights-era landmarks from the 1950s and '60s across Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi. Here are just some highlights…

Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama
Where some 600 voters' rights protesters were attacked by state police on a bridge in Selma, during the Selma to Montgomery protest marches of 1965; later known as 'Bloody Sunday'.

Woolworth’s store, Greensboro, North Carolina
Where four black college students occupied seats at a ‘whites only’ lunch counter in 1960, launching a sit-in protest against segregation laws.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta, Georgia
At the birthplace of MLK, hear the civil rights leader’s voice in the parish church where he first spoke out against segregation.

The 16th Street Baptist church, Birmingham, Alabama
The church was bombed by Klansmen in 1963, killing four girls and injuring others. Three Ku Klux Klan members were eventually jailed for their part in the attack.

New civil rights museums, Jackson, Mississippi
This month, the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History unveils challenging artefacts that aim to tell the complex history of this southern state.

Parsonage, Montgomery, Alabama
Martin Luther King, Jr. lived here with his young family from 1954-1960 at the beginning of his quest for civil rights. It’s also home to photographs of his wedding to Coretta Scott King.


More info:

Art movement

The Tate Modern's hit exhibition, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, tours to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas (3 February-23 April 2018); and Brooklyn Museum (7 Sept 2018- 3 Feb 2019).

Follow @SarahBarell

Published in the December 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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