MEMPHIS, Tenn., RUSSELLVILLE & LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Four new attractions and one new city were added to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail (USCRT) in February. According to Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department and chairman of the USCRT Marketing Alliance, these destinations further enrich the trail experience and the story of the Civil Rights Movement. New additions to the trail include:
• Historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn., established in 1841 and one of the most iconic streets in America, which became a thriving area for black commerce and culture around the time of the Civil War. During the Civil Rights Movement, African-Americans went there to entertain and be entertained, shop, strategize, and protest. Striking city sanitation workers marched down Beale Street, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Memphis in support. The demonstrations were a precursor to his assassination on April 4, 1968.
• WDIA, which went on air on June 7, 1947 in Memphis, was the first radio station in the country programmed entirely for the black community. The station featured black radio personalities, reaching the African-American population of the Mississippi Delta and other areas from Missouri to the Gulf Coast.
• The SEEK Museum in Russellville, Ky., which recognizes the work of journalist Alice Allison Dunnigan, a civil rights pioneer who became the first female African-American admitted to the White House, Congressional, and Supreme Court press corps, with a life-size bronze statue and an exhibit about her achievements. As the Washington correspondent for the Associated Negro Press, she worked with Congress to pass legislation that allowed her to obtain press credentials in 1947, served on the president’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and worked to enforce compliance of the Civil Rights Acts.
• The Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky., is a multicultural center with an award-winning museum that features interactive and multimedia exhibits. Guests will learn about Ali’s six core principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality. Located on Museum Row in the heart of downtown Louisville, the Muhammad Ali Center is the only place in the world dedicated to preserving and promoting Ali’s legacy.
In 2018, the USCRT Marketing Alliance, made up of 14 state tourism departments, Destination DC, leaders from the National Park Service, and historians, formed and launched CivilRightsTrail.com, featuring approximately 120 sites between Topeka, Kan., and Washington, D.C. All are considered important to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
“The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a vital ongoing project that tells the stories of the brave men and women who stood up for equal rights,” said Commissioner Mark Ezell, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and secretary/treasurer of the USCRT Marketing Alliance. “Tennessee is honored to be part of keeping civil rights history alive. We are excited the state has two new locations in Memphis on the trail—the Beale Street Historic District and WDIA radio station.”