DAY 1 & 2
Arrive in Atlanta, GA
Born in Atlanta, peace leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in a time of strict segregation. Following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, Dr. King became a minister and preached about peace through nonviolence at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Atlanta churchgoers witnessed the birth of this message that inspired millions and helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.
Visit the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. where he spent his formative years. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a multicultural center which highlights the Civil Rights and the modern human rights movement.
Drive to Clinton, TN (approximately 220 miles/354 ki, 3 hours 20 minutes)
Following the pivotal U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Federal Judge Robert L. Taylor ordered the desegregation of Clinton High School in Anderson County. On August 26, 1956, a group of African-American students – the Clinton 12 – attended their first day of class, marking the first integration of a public high school in the South. What began as a seemingly peaceful transition quickly evolved into a threatening uproar. Large crowds of integration protestors formed outside the school. Intimidation tactics eventually grew into violent riots, leading Tennessee Gov. Frank G. Clement to call for the assistance of the National Guard, marking another first in the Civil Rights Movement.
Visit the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton TN and step inside a 1950s classroom to see what life was like under "Jim Crow" laws. Follow the chronological story of the desegregation of the Clinton High School, the first integration of a public high school in the South, with life-size photographs and narratives.
DAY 4 & 5
Drive to Nashville, TN (approximately 175 miles/282 ki, 2 hours 50 minutes)
More than 50 years ago in Nashville, Tennessee, college students, ministers and other activists set out to champion for equality through peaceful protests and local lunch counter sit-ins. As these demonstrations advanced, the group’s steady cries for equality were answered with hatred and violence. These courageous men and women continued on, eventually conquering adversity and triggering a wave of successful protests across the southeastern United States.
Visit the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library and learn the story of Nashville’s sit-in movement that served as a model for later demonstrations in the South. Then, walk to the Fifth Avenue Historic District, the location of a number of successful sit-ins, including Woolworth on 5th. Today Woolworth on 5th is a locally-owned restaurant and entertainment venue serving up authentic soul food with a side of history.
While in town, experience Nashville’s live music scene at the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and famous honky tonks on Lower Broadway.
DAY 6 & 7
Drive to Memphis, TN (approximately 210 miles/338 ki, 3 hours 20 minutes)
As the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Memphis holds an important place in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The evening before his death, Dr. King delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, a speech that addressed the possibility of his death but reaffirmed his fearlessness in the face of the opposition.
Spend the afternoon at the National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the Lorraine Motel that was the location of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassination. The museum is a collection of artifacts and historic information that were significant in the struggle for Civil Rights.
Memphis is home of the blues and features several music history sites including Stax Museum of American Soul Music, that tells the story of creatives who made music together regardless of skin color; Elvis Presley’s Graceland who penned “If I Can Dream” which directly quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Sun Studio, and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame that honors artists from Ann Peebles to Otis Redding and B.B. King.. Beale Street, home to some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite music styles, hosts live music each night.
Drive to Jackson, MS (approximately 210 miles/338 ki, 3 hours 20 minutes)
Following the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Medgar Evers, a Civil Rights activist from Mississippi, worked hard to gain admission for black students to the University of Mississippi, a public university in Oxford. The first NAACP field secretary for Mississippi, Evers also helped organize boycotts and led voter registration drives. Because he thought Mississippi was “too racist and violent” for lunch counter sit-ins, “The Tougaloo Nine” chose the Jackson Public Library for their famous sit-in. Evers was assassinated by a Ku Klux Klan member in 1963, the same day President John F. Kennedy delivered his Civil Rights address.
Explore the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum which covers the entire Civil Rights Movement, with particular attention given to the murders of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers and teenager Emmett Till.
Drive to Selma, AL (approximately 210 miles/338 ki, 3 hours 20 minutes)
Selma, Alabama, captured the attention of the entire nation and became the center of a decisive shift in the American conscience. The nexus of the voting rights campaign of the 1960s, Selma was the starting point for three marches in support of African Americans’ right to vote. These marches were crucial to the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The National Voting Rights and Museum displays items and stories relating to the voting rights campaign, from the beginning of the marches to the end of the fight. The Lowdens Interpretive Center is dedicated to those who peacefully marched from Selma to Montgomery to gain the right to vote.
Return to Atlanta for departure (approximately 210 miles/338 ki, 3 hours 20 minutes)