In the USA, February is designated as Black History Month. People are encouraged to engage with Black histories, pay tribute to those who suffered and celebrate the triumphs and achievements of Black leaders and movements whilst giving visibility to the people and organisations creating change. With the U.K observing Black History Month later in the year (October), we hope these updates will inspire interest in the US Civil Rights Trail and some of the significant markers in the States we work with.



2022 sees the addition of two new sites and one expansion along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail in Tennessee, including the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville and Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis. The new additions join other landmarks for a total of 14 Tennessee stops on the trail.

The National Museum of African American Music, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary, is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans. The “One Nation Under a Groove” gallery is focused on how music inspired the Civil Rights Movement and evolved with the issues of the day. Educational programs, programming and events spotlight the achievements and influences of African American music.

In Memphis, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, located on the original site of Stax Records studio since 2003, pays special tribute to the artists who recorded there, as well as other American soul legends. Many of the artists and musicians who recorded at Stax were from the surrounding neighbourhood, local churches and schools. In a time when racial tension was high, the studio was integrated from day one, focusing on producing its own sound, a Memphis sound. Stax have also launched its second annual Virtual Black History Month Tour, which is available at no cost to educators and students throughout the world.

Another Memphis site along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail is Clayborn Temple, is now expanded to include “I AM A MAN” Plaza, which features a sculpture alongside a wall filled with the names of those who participated and rallied in the historic 1968 Memphis sanitization strikes.

Other important stops along the Civil Rights trail in Tennessee include the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. The Museum has memorialized the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. King lost his life, and also preserved Room 306 where Dr. King stayed the night before his assassination. History dating from 1619 to 2000 is shared through videos, text, images, and multimedia elements. Also in Memphis is WDIA Radio, the first radio station in the country programmed entirely for the African American community. The station aired on June 7, 1947, featuring African American radio personalities and brought awareness to a relatively new market of listeners. The station’s influence and popularity reached 10% of the Black population in the U.S. Music legends such as B.B. King and Rufus Thomas got their start by working at WDIA.

Nashville is home to Woolworth on 5th, a registered historic site as part of downtown Nashville’s Fifth Avenue Historic District. One of the original “five and dime” stores, F. W. Woolworth became the site of some of the first lunch counter sit-ins during the 1960s. Though currently undergoing renovations to convert the space into an 850-capacity theatre, Woolworth is expecting to reopen its doors in May 2022 and will continue to honour the building’s history by preserving the storefront and featuring displays with various original pieces.

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North Carolina

The F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro put North Carolina on the civil rights movement map. Six decades later, the N.C. Civil Rights Trail is guiding students of history to points of interest beyond the place where the sit-in movement took hold.

With newly designated sites, this initiative of the N.C. African American Heritage Commission features 14 stops with as many as 50 to be included when the trail is complete. Some stops commemorate protests sparked by the Woolworth sit-in, a story preserved at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. Other sites salute landmark court cases. And two should inspire a celebratory round of golf.

For travellers in pursuit of knowledge during Black History Month and beyond, Shelby, High Point and Raleigh are among the destinations that connect past and present with attractions and experiences that make a getaway worthwhile. Here are starting points for exploring the trail, a complement to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.


Shelby’s 20th-century history includes chapters as a political powerhouse and a major textiles centre plus a list of natives and residents well-known to music fans: Earl Scruggs, Don Gibson, Alicia Bridges and Patty Loveless. Top picks for a civil rights-related tour:

  • 104 E. Warren St. From the Civil Rights Trail, the site commemorates the Shelby Sit-Ins, “African Americans, led by local high school students, held sit-ins and picketed businesses in February 1960 to demand desegregation.” The business at the Warren Street address is Buffalo Creek Gallery, one of Uptown Shelby’s shopping pleasures. A mural depicting native son/NFL Hall of Famer Bobby Bell can be found a couple of blocks west.
  • Earl Scruggs Center. The namesake banjo master adds star power to a regional history museum that illuminates the complexities of history in a place where Old South and New South meet. The Turning Road gallery, which focuses on economic, social and cultural change, includes oral histories plus a panel about David Lee and the Washington Sound. And the Common Threads touch table invites visitors to explore intersections of music, culture and social structures.
  • Cleveland County African American Heritage Trail. Curated by the Scruggs Center, the driving tour covers 11 churches, schools and other sites, including the Washington Theatre, the only local theater that opened all seats to African Americans during segregation.
  • Sunset Cemetery. Amid the monuments and funerary art, find the graves of Thomas Dixon Jr., a white supremacist whose novels were adapted as “The Birth of a Nation,” and W.J. Cash, whose “The Mind of the South” confronted Southern culture. An independent committee is investigating unmarked graves in the cemetery’s “colored” section that might hold the remains of people who were enslaved.
  • Support Black-owned businesses. Stay near the heart of town at the stately Morgan & Wells Bed & Breakfast; fill up at Sweethouse BakeryPhyllis’ Sweet Shopand Upscale Soulfood Restaurant and Catering; and shop at Golden Thingz Natural Shop and Imperial Comics and Games.

High Point

Known as the “Home Furnishings Capital of the World,” High Point boasts a vibrant culture, a flourishing culinary scene and intriguing pockets of history. Top picks for a civil rights-related tour in the hometown of John Coltrane and Fantasia Barrino:

  • Blair Park Municipal Golf Course. From the Civil Rights Trail, the courses are where prominent African American doctors H.H. Creft, Perry Little and George Simkins “forced the City of High Point to review its long-standing policy of segregated recreational facilities by playing golf at the Blair Park municipal course in December 1954.” Play a round and add nine more holes at Greensboro’s Gillespie Golf Course, a Civil Rights Trail site where six black players fought to integrate the municipal course.
  • John Coltrane sites. The Core Gallery at the High Point Museummuseum displays the piano that the legendary composer-saxophonist played while growing up in High Point. In the heart of town, Coltrane all but comes to life in Thomas J. Warren’s 8-foot bronze sculpture. And the Blair-Coltrane House (118 Underhill St.), where he lived growing up, is open for tours during the John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival, held over Labor Day weekend, and on other occasions.
  • Historic Washington Street neighbourhood. Visit High Pointprovides a map of this once-flourishing Black business district. A mural depicting the late community leader Louis Haizlip was dedicated in 2021 as the kick-off for development of an African American History Trail. The High Point Museum offers occasional neighbourhood walking tours.
  • Support Black-owned businesses. Feast at Unwind on Main Café and BarUncle Cheesecakeand Mayberry Ice Cream & Sandwich Shop.


North Carolina’s capital city has abundant history and places to explore it, starting with the N.C. Museum of History. Its “Story of North Carolina” anchor exhibit includes an exploration of the civil rights era. Other key points of interest for civil rights travel:

  • Village District(formerly Cameron Village). From the Civil Rights Trail, the site commemorates February 1960 sit-ins where “130 African American students entered multiple Raleigh establishments despite a meeting between church and city leaders to head off civil disobedience in the city.” The shopping district’s recent name change acknowledges the Cameron family’s legacy as slaveholders.
  • Martin Luther King Memorial Gardens. The first public garden solely devoted to Dr. King and the civil rights movement, the space features a life-size bronze sculpture by Abbe Godwin, a water monument, and a picnic shelter. The gardens are part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, which also includes Shaw University’s Estey Hall, the first U.S. building constructed for the education of Black women.
  • John Chavis Memorial Park. Named for a free Black preacher and Revolutionary War veteran, the 26.5-acre park opened in 1937 as a “separate but equal” counterpart to Pullen Park. Features included a swimming pool, athletic fields, tennis courts, picnic shelters, an amphitheatre and an Allan Herschell carousel that’s still in operation. Renovations to the park were completed in 2021.
  • And more. Visit Raleigh extends the options with an African American Cultural Heritage guide, which includes St. Augustine’s University and its historic chapel, the Pope House Museumand the City of Raleigh Museum.
  • Support Black-owned businesses. Shop at the Black Friday Marketand the Zen Succulent’s Raleigh store; fill up at OroCremaJack’s Seafood & Soul Food and Oak City Fish & Chips at Morgan Street Food Hall; and indulge at Adara Spa.

@VisitNC #VisitNC



The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail opened in Summer 2021, to tell the unique stories of the Civil Rights Movement including a variety of “firsts” that happened in Louisiana, such as the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott that inspired the famous Montgomery boycott. A total of 16 Louisiana Civil Rights Trail interpretive markers will be fabricated and installed to tell the stories and demonstrate the power of the people – young, old, black, white in Louisiana during the Modern Civil Rights Movement to “Make Rights Real.” The overarching goal is to create a cultural tourism experience that invites visitors to explore sites and learn more about the events significant to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Louisiana Civil Rights markers unveiled to date include:

Bogalusa to Baton Rouge March where Civil Rights activist A.Z. Young, with Robert “Bob” Hicks and Gayle Jenkins, led the march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge. Young planned to present a list of grievances to Governor John McKeithen on the steps of the State Capitol. Referred to as the “105-mile gauntlet,” the marchers faced substantial opposition along the way. By the time the marchers arrived at the State Capitol, their number had grown from 25 to 600, with protection from National Guardsmen and police. In his speech on the state capitol steps, Young voiced complaints about employment and discrimination and called for the election of ten black people running for local offices in Bogalusa. The protesters’ efforts were ultimately successful, leading to better hiring and voting practices.

The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott was a historic effort by black residents seeking fair treatment by the local bus company. They comprised 80% of the city bus ridership but were forced to stand at the back of the bus even when there were seats in the “whites only” section of the bus. The old state capitol was a major site in the boycott, as riders gathered under oak trees to find free transportation to work. It also had broader impact on the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired by the free ride system pioneered in Baton Rouge and used it as a model for the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.

Little Union Baptist Church was the epicenter of civil rights activities in Shreveport. Through the dynamic leadership of Reverend Claude Clifford McClain, members of the congregation strategized resolve civil rights issues peacefully, planned store boycotts to protest hiring practices by downtown stores, and conducted voter registration drives. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his last public appearance delivering an inspirational speech from the church pulpit.

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans gained notoriety as a place where people of all races could sit down and discuss strategies for the civil rights movement. Iconic civil rights leaders Oretha Castle Haley, A.P. Tureaud, Ernest “Dutch” Morial, Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Ralph Abernathy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. all gathered in the upstairs dining room. Leah Chase, Chef and co-owner with her husband Dooky, famously said, “I like to think that we changed the course of America over a bowl of gumbo.”

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