No one can deny this year has seen a renewed energy behind equal rights activism, and if you'd like to explore the roots of the Civil Rights Movement in America, Nine Muses Travel can arrange private tours with an activist who marched over the bridge in Selma, Martin Luther King Jr.'s former driver, and other specialist, historian guides. These once-in-a-lifetime experiences should be seized while you can and are perfect for helping to educate families, school groups, religious groups, and more on an adventure through the South.
Customizing a trip around the Civil Rights Trail can be revelatory, and these significant sites can be included to add historical references and immersive experiences on any journey through the South; and we can add Civil War sights and battlefields too. Some museums mentioned below are expected to reopen this fall, while others are currently accessible. As you explore how we can bring the Civil Rights Trail alive for you, refer back to my recent article Sights, Sounds, and Tastes of America's Historic South for distinctive accommodations and much more to include in your next trip!
Before we dive in, here's a brief timeline of but a few pivotal years in American Civil Rights history.
1619 - Beginning of slavery in the U.S. The first African slaves are brought to the British settlement of Jamestown, Virginia.
1865 - After the Civil War ends, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, explicitly abolishing slavery.
1896 - Jim Crow: "separate but equal" movement. Much of the progress made in post war Reconstruction era is undone as states enact laws to segregate virtually all public spaces and institutions.
1954 - Brown vs. Board of Education. The U.S. Supreme Court rules segregation in public schools is illegal, setting the stage for integration and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
1964 - MLK Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. Over a decade of boycotts, sit-ins, and freedom rides culminate with the monumental march on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic speech, helping to secure the Civil Rights Act that passed the following year.
2020 - The struggle for equality continues.
The passing of American statesman and Civil Rights leader, John Lewis, reminded America "good trouble, necessary trouble" can be non-violent and effective and leave a long-lasting, honorable legacy which we remembered reverently as his funeral procession crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Begin your journey of discover here in Selma and in Montgomery, where you can easily spend several days focusing on the Civil Rights Movement. Nine Muses Travel can arrange an extraordinarily special tour led by an activist who marched through Selma as a child, for a perspective like no other.
Selma history with a Civil Rights activist who marched over Edmund Pettus Bridge as a child
Birmingham Civil Rights tour
Private tour of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Montgomery Civil Rights tour with an activist
Private tour of the new Legacy Museum in Montgomery
Guided visit to Montgomery's National Memorial for Peace and Justice and lynching memorial
It's here in Atlanta where we can arrange a private tour led by Martin Luther King Jr.'s own driver, now in his late 70's. This is a rare opportunity you and your friends and family should not miss!
Guided tour of the National Center for Human and Civil Rights in Atlanta
Atlanta Civil Rights Tour led by a non-violent Freedom Fighter
From the Civil War to Civil Rights history tour
Private tour inside of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home
Human rights tour of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
While there are plenty of plantations that can be visited throughout the South, Whitney Plantation is a uniquely moving experience, told from the perspective of slaves in Louisiana. Of course you'll want to experience New Orleans and also a tour of Tremé; just north of the French Quarter, it's America's oldest African-American neighborhood.
Guided tour of the Whitney Plantation
New Orleans French Quarter and Tremé Civil Rights tour with a local historian
Memphis was the site of the tragic shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel, which is now a museum where you can actually walk through the room where he was assassinated. You can lighten the mood in Memphis with some great music, food, and homage to Elvis at Graceland.
After hours guided tour of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel
Memphis Civil Rights history sightseeing tour
Other Places of Interest
Washington D.C.: Devote a day to the expansive National Museum of African American History and Culture, with access to private touring. In D.C. you can also visit Martin Luther King Jr.'s old office and his towering monument, plus engage with modern day activist guides.
Richmond, VA: Capital of the Confederacy, where you can tour the Confederacy's own White House.
Charlottesville, VA: Two years ago, we witnessed a painful march through Charlottesville, which is also tied to a complicated past with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.
Charleston, SC: Once home to one of the oldest slave markets in the country and surrounded with plantations, this is an important stop on any educational journey.
Greensboro, NC: Site of the lunch counter sit-ins in 1960 when racial segregation was still legal.
Jackson, MS: Home of the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the first of its kind to be sponsored by a U.S. state.
Civil Rights History in the Deep South: Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham, Memphis. This is a classic itinerary for packing in the most Civil Rights Movement sights with the best immersive touring experiences.
Nine Muses Travel works with exceptional tour operators who add value for all my clients.
Expert guides: historians, Civil Rights activists, unique locals
Comfortable, safe, and luxurious vehicles
24/7 real-time support
Competitive rates at four and five star properties
Deep destination knowledge
I creatively customize luxury travel highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.
Founder & President of Nine Muses Travel