Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day may be over, but Alabama’s place in the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail is here to stay. The trail links “almost 130 museums, churches, courthouses and other landmarks that were essential to the advancement of social equality during the volatile 1950s and 1960s.” Alabama’s share includes 10 sites in Montgomery, seven in Selma, four in Birmingham and four in Tuskegee.
The creation of the trail is the first time tourism departments from multiple Southern states have worked together to jointly promote civil rights sites. My friend Lee Sentell, Director of the Alabama Department of Tourism, stated:
The subject of human rights has never been more relevant. The landmarks in Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery already attract visitors from Britain, Europe and Australia as well as from the U.S. Now that the South has a website that raises the visibility of minor sites, we can expect more tourists in Monroeville, Tuskegee and Scottsboro.
The two-year effort to create the trail began when National Park Service Director Jonathon Jarvis called for an inventory of surviving civil rights landmarks. Georgia State University found 60 sites, and Lee Sentell “helped spearhead an effort by TravelSouth USA to have the 12 Southern states in represents supplement the list with other worthy sites. The Alabama trail sites are:
• Anniston: Freedom Riders National Monument
• Birmingham: 16th Street Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park
• Monroeville: Old Courthouse Museum
• Montgomery: Alabama State Capitol, City of St. Jude, Civil Rights Memorial Center, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church Dexter Parsonage Museum, First Baptist Church on Riley Street, Frank M. Johnson Jr. Federal Building and United States Courthouse, Freedom Rides Museum, Holt Street Baptist Church, Rosa Parks Museum
• Scottsboro: The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center
• Selma: Brown Chapel AME Church, Edmund Pettus Bridge, Lowndes Interpretive Center, National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, Selma Interpretive Center, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, The Sullivan and Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson Foundation and Museum
• Tuscaloosa: Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama
• Tuskegee: Butler Chapel AME Zion Church, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Tuskegee History Center, Tuskegee University
Gov. Kay Ivey made Alabama’s trail announcement on Jan. 15 at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Other speakers at the church included Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean and Joseph Carver, the vice president of the Montgomery Improvement Association. You can go to www.civilrightstrail.com to obtain information about the trail.
Source: Montgomery Advertiser