Since February is Black History Month, it’s an opportune time consider a road trip that takes in sites that are important to black history in the United States. So I created a journey through that runs between Georgia and Kansas and which takes in key locations from the civil rights movement as well as some historic homes of prominent African Americans. The article was just published on Examiner.com. Here is an excerpt from the Alabama portion of the trip:
In Birmingham, you can then begin your journey along the Alabama Civil Rights Trail. The main attraction here is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a museum that re-creates the world of racial segregation and the civil rights clashes. It is across the street from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where four young girls were killed during a 1963 bombing by the Ku Klux Klan.
Another two hours south is the town of Selma. There, you can stop at the Edmund Pettis Bridge, where 500 people were attacked by state police in 1965 while they participated in the Voting Rights March. From here, you can follow the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail, which commemorates that march.
It’s just over an hour to Montgomery, where Dr. King was a preacher and some of the most famous civil rights incidents took place. You can tour the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where King worked; the Dexter Parsonage Museum, the home where King and his family lived; the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, which pays tribute to the woman who sparked a year-long city bus boycott; and the Civil Rights Memorial, designed by the architect Maya Lin, that honors those who gave their life to the civil rights struggle.
Finally, less than an hour east of Montgomery is the Alabama town of Tuskegee, which is not connected to the civil rights movement but is renowned in African American history for other reasons.
First, you should visit the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site. It’s the only historic site located on a functioning college campus. The school was founded in 1881 as a teacher’s college for African Americans and grew to prominence under the leadership of Booker T. Washington. One of the school’s most famous professors was George Washington Carver. Today, you’re able to visit some of the university’s earliest buildings, including The Oaks, which was Washington’s home. Another attraction is the George Washington Carver Museum, with exhibits on Carver’s life and scientific achievements. Additionally, the graves of Washington and Carver are in the Tuskegee University Campus Cemetery.
Also in town is the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. Exhibits at Moton Field tell the remarkable story of the thousands of African Americans who were trained here during World War II to fly and maintain combat planes. Since the military was still segregated at the time they had to be trained at a different facility from white pilots, but the Tuskegee Airmen became one of the military’s most respected group of fighters.
You can read my full story here, and you can follow the journey with this Google map:
View Black history road trip in a larger map
Photo credit: Gray wolf via Wikimedia Commons.