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Welcome to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail

Some of the most significant milestones in U.S. civil rights history began in seemingly unknown places — a bus, a high school, a bridge. During the peak of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s, however, these spaces became landmarks in the march toward racial rights. Discover the most influential attractions on the Civil Rights Trail, a living catalog dedicated to the story of equality. Whether these attractions fit into your itinerary or the trail itself becomes your itinerary, you’ll be moved by the stories of hope and perseverance.


Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee

National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel

April 4, 1968, is one of the most indelible moments in U.S. history. It’s the day that civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The motel façade is maintained to look the way it did that fateful day; inside, the motel has been converted into a museum. Included among the exhibits is the preserved room where King spent his final hours. Tour the two buildings across the street, which further detail the eras of slavery, racial protests and modern-day equality efforts.

The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

“Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty I’m free at last.” The words etched onto King’s gravestone at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia, will inspire you as you explore major King sites in the city’s Old Fourth Ward district. Take a ranger-led tour of his birth home and see where he was baptized and served as pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The King Center also holds Dr. and Mrs. King’s tombs, the International World Peace Rose Garden, the Civil Rights Walk of Fame and the stunning Reflecting Pool.

Alabama's Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Located in the heart of the Civil Rights District, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute contains exhibits and artifacts related to all aspects of the civil rights struggle. Begin with an informative film that gives context for the rest of the displays, which chronicle race relations in Birmingham, Alabama, and beyond. Notable artifacts include a fire-bombed bus, the bars of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s jail cell and dioramas depicting instances of segregation in the South. The building is across from the 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of a racially motivated bombing in 1963 that killed four young girls.

Edmund Pettus Bridge

Edmund Pettus Bridge/Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail

In 1965, hundreds of civil rights advocates embarked on an 87-kilometer march from the A.M.E. Church in Selma, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to Montgomery, Alabama. What ensued were racially charged riots that came to be known as Bloody Sunday. Days later, the march was reorganized and grew to nearly 25,000 peaceful protesters. Today, this historic route features informative displays and nearby attractions including the Selma Voting Rights Museum and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.

National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

When visiting Washington, D.C., a stop at the National Museum of African American History and Culture is a must. With a 37,000-object collection in nearly 8,000-square-meters of exhibit space, the museum offers a comprehensive view of the African American experience in the USA, from the 1400s to modern times. This incredibly popular attraction requires timed-entry passes to visit; check the museum website for entry details.

Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama

Civil Rights Memorial

Located near the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, honors some of the most important figures in the fight for justice. Trace the names engraved in black granite of 41 people who died between 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared school segregation unconstitutional, and 1968, the year Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The memorial was created by Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Sit-in counter at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum (Woolworth’s) in Greensboro, North Carolina

International Civil Rights Center & Museum (Woolworth’s)

Located in quaint downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, what is now the International Civil Rights Center & Museum used to be a Woolworth’s, a general store known for its lunch counter service. In 1960, however, the lunch counter became the site of a months-long, peaceful sit-in protest, launching a major civil rights movement that spread across the USA. The original lunch counter is carefully preserved, while the rest of the building features somber and educational exhibits.

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

Explore Mississippi civil rights history at this facility in downtown Jackson. The eight main galleries document the tragic deaths and heroic struggles of Mississippians seeking equal rights, including Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer. Most of the exhibits focus on the years from 1945 to 1976, some of the most significant decades in the state’s civil rights events. Your admission also grants access to the adjacent Museum of Mississippi History.

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Arkansas

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

When Arkansas’ Little Rock Central High School was desegregated in 1957, the first nine African American students had to be surrounded by federal troops to safely enter the formerly all-white campus. Learn about the “Little Rock Nine” at the visitors’ center, or reserve a ranger-led tour that begins at the visitors’ center and ends at the school, which is still an active high school today. Look for the old Magnolia gas station across the street where the press gathered to report on the event.

Davidson County Courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee

Davidson County Courthouse

Stand in front of the Davidson County Courthouse in Nashville, Tennessee, and you’ll be standing in the same place where 3,000 protesters confronted the city’s mayor, Ben West, who publicly conceded that segregation was immoral. It was a major milestone in Nashville’s race relations, prompting the desegregation of public accommodations throughout the city. Next to the courthouse, the Witness Walls depict images of other notable moments and people in local history.

Exterior of Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas
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Discover the States of the Civil Rights Trail

Photographing Window Rock in Ouachita National Forest
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Blues, barbecue and the great outdoors

Exploring the Circle S Ranch by horseback
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Unspoiled beauty in the heart of the USA