Five civil rights tours
Today marks 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr’s death – an important day in America’s history, and indeed, the western world. To mark the occasion, and for culture vultures who relish the opportunity to find out more about an area’s modern history, there are a rising number of tours of inspirational places in civil rights history.
At the start of the year, Travel South USA introduced the comprehensive Civil Rights Trail, taking in the key points of interest in the civil rights movement, from Martin Luther King’s birthplace to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, depicted in the 2014 movie Selma.
For those heading to a specific destination, or with limited time on their hands, the Flexicover team has picked out the top civil rights tours in America. There are walking tours, self-guided tours and coach tours too, so whichever way you prefer to take in key sights, there’s an option for you.
Civil Rights Audio Tour, Montgomery, Alabama
We’d recommend a self-guided audio tour of Montgomery, the place where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, which sparked the chain of events that led to better equality. The idea is to download the map from the website and stream audio that gives the background of each stop as you arrive. If you don’t have access to the website, the Montgomery Visitor Centre rents out MP3 players instead. It’s the perfect way to learn about its history at your own pace whether walking or driving, and at a time that suits your schedule.
Civil Rights Tour, Atlanta, Georgia
For those who like the comfort of a coach, for $65 Atlanta’s Civil Rights Tour whisks interested parties around areas that had a considerable impact in black history. There‘s plenty of notable places, as Atlanta was Martin Luther King’s hometown. The coach means plenty of ground is covered, and there are video interludes continuing the education between sites. Stops include Martin Luther King’s birthplace and Paschal’s Restaurant, famed as a meeting place for those wanting to further integration. Best of all you’ll get plenty of first-hand stories from the tour guide Tom Houck who was an aide and driver for the King family.
Mississippi Freedom Trail, Mississippi
Across the fine state of Mississippi, markers have been laid down to point out important places in the civil rights movement. So after an initial visit to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, take one of the suggested routes to see a selection of the 25 markers. These include one in Greenwood, where Stokely Carmichael’s speech gave rise to the phrase of ‘black power’, and one in Fannie Lou Hamer Park in Ruleville, commemorating Fannie’s contribution to fighting injustice. These routes are designed for visitors to take themselves, but Visit Mississippi offers free guides for those who’d prefer it.
St. Augustine Historic Civil Rights & Black Heritage Walking Tour, Florida
This 90-minute tour in north Florida takes in ten important sights around ‘the nation’s oldest city’, as St Augustine is known. Stop at places where leaders like Martin Luther King and Andrew Young made inspiring speeches, where Freedom Fighters risked their lives and African-Americans made a stand against the system that supressed them. The tour also takes in the Civil Rights Museum, where the story of ‘unsung heroes and sheroes’ is told using displays, articles, stories and artefacts. The tours run on selected Saturdays and are free.
Harlem Civil Rights Multimedia Walking Tour, New York
Meanwhile in New York, the Harlem area has its own civil rights story. Starting at the Harlem Heritage Tourism and Cultural Center, a Harlem-born guide explains how the borough was involved with the civil rights movement. It’s a worthy use of time in the Big Apple - standing in the very spot that Martin Luther King nearly died serves as a stark reminder of how much he contributed since. To bring the past back to life, the guide uses audio and video footage, playing clips to show the history of each stop along the way. The tour is $25, takes two hours and runs on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.
Wherever you plan to head to this year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.