As a Black Southerner, when hearing the word “Alabama”, it doesn’t always strike a warm reaction.
Alabama is known for being a pivotal location for the Civil Rights movement, but with this movement, there are plenty of horror stories to accompany it.
So when I was invited by @AlabamaTravel to do a weekend with them based on Civil Rights, I was thrilled but knew it would be emotionally taxing.
In the current political climate of blatant racism, “45”, murders by police enforcement, etc. you can imagine that taking a journey back into the Civil Rights era was going to pull at one’s heartstrings.
And it did.
However, there is so much history to learn about the Civil Rights, Alabama as a state, and human rights for all.
Visiting Alabama is a must for anyone that wants to learn more about Civil Rights, not only for Black Americans and people of color, but to get an understanding of human rights in its entirety.
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway for the family, your friends, or a solo trip, here is the perfect itinerary for the “Civil Rights Trail” from Atlanta to various cities in Alabama.
We all have heard about the honorable Dr. Martin Luther Jr, but his story is truly brought to life when you visit his home and memorial in Atlanta.
Nestled in Historic Old Fourth Ward, the Dr. Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change aka “The King Center”, is where you should start your tour.
The center not only takes you through his early life (you can see the home he grew up in) and where his body currently rests, but you will also have an opportunity to see, read, and watch testimonials from those who fought for nonviolent social justice along side Dr. King and those who protested with him.
For lunch, head over to Sweet Auburn Seafood on Auburn Ave. The Lobster Pot Pie is one of their most popular dishes.
I opted for the oyster po’boy with a kale salad! Make sure to pad enough time in for a midday nap!
Only a little over two-hour ride from Atlanta, make your way to Montgomery, Alabama.
It is such a pleasure going on a private tour of Dexter Parsonage Museum, where you will see where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family lived from 1954 through 1959. This is also the same house where the King’s home was bombed.
After visiting here, you can stroll over to the Alabama Archives. The Museum is located at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the nation’s oldest state-funded, independent archival and historical agency.
For dinner, grab a spot at Central. EVERYTHING on their menu was mind-blowing, but the sautéed Brussels was my fave!
** If you have time, do a mini-detour to Tuskegee Alabama to view the airspace!
Possibly the most heart wrenching and emotional stop on the tour, it will also be the most insightful.
We had the honor and privilege to do a tour with Joanne Bland, who, at the age of 11 actually did “The March on Selma” with Dr. King. She recounted stories of walking, protesting, and creating a strategy with the Greats in the Civil Rights. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an opportunity to also go on a tour with Ms. Bland.
And of course, you must cross the Selma Bridge. It is historical and emotional.
If you’re looking for true southern cooking, then you definitely want to check out Selma’s famous Lannie’s BBQ.Even if you have a plant-based or vegetarian diet, you can get a bunch of sides that weren’t cooked with meat in it.
The last stop in your Civil Rights Tour would have to end in Birmingham, the pinnacle of the Civil Rights Movement.
Luckily, a lot of the things you must see are in the same area, called the Birmingham Civil Rights District.
First, stop at Kelly Ingram Park, which houses many beautifully contrasted and telling monuments.
Right across the street is 16th Street Baptist Church. If you’re not familiar, September 15, 1963, at 10:22 a.m., the church became known around the world when a bomb exploded, killing four young girls attending Sunday School and injuring more than 20 other members of the congregation.
Then, take ample time to truly go through and experience the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Possibly one of the most impressive museum institutes. Do yourself a favor and get a tour guide to take you through the museum. They’ll be able to give you more insights into the museum and the Movement.
Lastly, if you’re a fan of baseball then Negro Southern League Baseball Museum is where you should stop. It’s a new establishment in Birmingham that showcases many of the teams from the Negro Baseball League.
If staying in style and centrally located, stay at The Elyton Hotel. It is a newly constructed, super chic, and an easy access point to various areas in the city. The rooftop of the hotel has a very popular happy hour and evening spot where you’ll have an opportunity to meet many of the super friendly locals.
For an upscale dining experience, then go Highlands Bar and Grill. Everything on the menu was amazing.
Have you really experience Alabama’s history this in depth?
Have you ever thought about taking a Civil Rights Tour to understand a part of America’s history?