Freedom’s Path

Celebrate African-American History Month on the new U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

By Allison Entrekin

February is African-American History Month, a time to recognize the achievements of African-Americans and remember the important people and events that have helped shape the African-American experience in the United States. The new U.S. Civil Rights Trail makes it simple to find and visit many of the sites where these pivotal moments took place, from F. W. Woolworth in Greensboro, North Carolina, where the first sit-in occurred, in 1960, to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma, Alabama, where African-Americans marched for voting rights five years later. The trail, an ambitious effort from more than a dozen state tourism offices, connects these and nearly 130 other civil rights landmarks across 14 states and the District of Columbia.

At CivilRightsTrail.com, you can check out an interactive map of the trail and read the human stories behind the headlines. Search for destinations by state, site or topic. A timeline puts important dates in context, while a photo gallery showcases a mix of archival and modern-day pictures.

If you follow the trail to Washington, D.C., you can explore the National Museum of African American History and Culture (1400 Constitution Avenue NW; 844-750-3012; admission, free; check website for timed entry-pass availability), the only national museum dedicated to the African-American experience. In Atlanta, tour the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (50 Auburn Ave. NE; 404-331-5190 ext. 5046; tours, free) or visit The Carter Center (1 Copenhill, 453 Freedom Pkwy.; 404-420-5100), which hosts panel discussions on human rights. And in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Little Rock Nine bravely led the desegregation of public schools across the country when they attended Little Rock Central High School (1500 S. Park St.; 501-374-1957; tours, free) under the protection of federal troops in 1957.

More than a century and a half after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863, the long struggle for equality continues in courthouses, schools and neighborhoods around the country. No matter where the U.S. Civil Rights Trail leads you, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of an important part of our nation’s history and motivation to further deepen that understanding over time.

  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: February 2018