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Explore the Tragedy and Triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama

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by Rhoda Venture
Education Trip

The civil rights movement was a volatile and influential time in our nation’s history.  We study it in our schools, watch movies portraying its leaders and feel its impact on today’s society.  Imagine how powerful it would be to experience firsthand.  Explore the tragedy and triumphs of the civil rights movement in Alabama to connect the past and the present.

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery

This church was the backbone of the 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycott.  For nearly a year, boycott supporters walked to work or used a sophisticated system of volunteer carpools to keep buses in Montgomery virtually empty.  The boycott cost Montgomery City Lines nearly 30,000 to 40,000 fares as a result.

Explore the civil rights movement in Alabama

One of the leaders of this influential grassroots movement was the Dexter Baptist Church minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The event propelled him into the national spotlight, and the church where he first preached his message of hope and brotherhood is now a National Historic Landmark.

Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery

1n 1961, a group of 21 young black, white, male, and female volunteers made history when they challenged the practice of segregated travel throughout the South.  These Freedom Riders risked everything when they boarded buses and crossed racial barriers, helping to end racial segregation in public transportation.

Freedom Riders in Alabama

Today, you can visit the historic Montgomery Greyhound Station where the Freedom Riders stepped off the bus on May 20, 1961, and into brutal violence with no police protection from an angry mob.  Several riders were severely injured, including future U.S. Congressman John Lewis.

Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma

The Edmund Pettus Bridge on the Civil Rights Trail marks an important day in U.S. history and the fight for civil rights. On Sunday, March 7, 1965, police and a posse of citizens attacked peaceful marchers attempting to cross the bridge. 

Explore the civil rights movement in Alabama

Images of this bloody and violent event galvanized the nation to support the activists. In August, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed.

Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma

This historic church in Selma, Alabama was the starting point for the Selma to Montgomery marches.  These marches helped lead to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Today Brown Chapel AME Church is a popular stop on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, as well as a busy place of worship.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, at Moton Field in Tuskegee, is the training site of the first-ever African American military pilots, known as the Red Tails.

Tuskegee Airmen

A small black college in Alabama, the Tuskegee Institute was selected to host a “military experiment.” African American pilots and support staff were trained, giving rise to the Tuskegee Airmen.

More than 15,000 men and women who shared the “Tuskegee Experience” from 1942-1946 are immortalized at this impressive site.

The Legacy Museum

Montgomery’s Equal Justice Initiative opened the Legacy Museum in April of 2018 as a comprehensive history of the story of slavery in the United States.  It is uniquely situated on a site where black people were forced into bondage in one of the most prominent slave auction spaces in America.

Here you will learn about the slave trade and its impact on our nation.  You’ll also learn of the legacy of racial inequality and reconciliation that may lead to solutions to contemporary problems.

Birmingham Civil Rights District

This historical city in the deep south hearkens back to a time of civil unrest and great change in the United States.  The Birmingham Civil Rights District is an area of downtown where several significant events took place in the 1950s and 60s.  It’s an easily walkable route (especially for student groups). 

Birmingham Civil Rights District

Highlights include Kelly Ingram Park, 16th Street Baptist Church, Fourth Avenue Business District, A.G. Gaston Gardens, Carver Theater, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Historic Bethel Baptist Church

Just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Birmingham is Historic Bethel Baptist Church.  The church played a crucial part in the 1961 Freedom Ride. It provided refuge for wounded or stranded riders under the guidance of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

Alabama Penny Savings Bank Building

Founded by William Reuben Pettiford in 1890, the Alabama Penny Savings Bank was the first black-owned bank in the state and the 2nd largest black-owned bank in the country.  It was instrumental in helping African Americans achieve homeownership and in the development of Birmingham businesses and churches.

Explore the Tragedy and Triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama

The Civil Rights Movement was born in Alabama. The places here tell a powerful story of struggle and the human spirit that speak to us today.

Plan a student trip that illuminates the experiences most have only read about.  THIS is connecting your curriculum to reality in the most meaningful way!

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