BUSINESSWIRE – Four new attractions and one new city have been added to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail (USCRT), officials announced Thursday. These destinations further enrich the trail experience and the story of the Civil Rights Movement, and it is fitting that they have been added during the nation’s celebration of Black History Month.
The additions include the Beale Street Historic District and WDIA radio station, both in Memphis, Tennessee. The trail also added the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville and the SEEK Museum in Russellville, Kentucky.
“We are delighted about the additions of the Muhammad Ali Center, the SEEK Museum, Beale Street Historic District and WDIA to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department and chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance. “We know they will make incredible additions to the trail as a whole, which continues to showcase how ‘what happened here changed the world.'”
The new sites were announced by the USCRT Marketing Alliance, which is made up of 14 state tourism departments, Destination DC, leaders from the National Park Service and historians. In 2018, the Marketing Alliance formed and launched CivilRightsTrail.com, featuring approximately 120 sites between Topeka, Kansas, and Washington, D.C., that were important to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Most recently, the trail was recognized with gold for Best Destination in a Region from the International Travel & Tourism Awards on Nov. 5, 2019. It was also awarded the Mercury Marketing Award on Aug. 20, 2019, for its marketing excellence. In the site’s second year, it achieved 1 million page views.
About the New Sites:
Historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, was established in 1841 and is one of the most iconic streets in America. Around the time of the Civil War, it became a thriving area for black commerce and culture. During the Civil Rights Movement, the area was also where African-Americans came to entertain and be entertained, shop, strategize and protest. When city sanitation workers decided to strike in response to deplorable job conditions, they 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.
“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.”
WDIA was the first radio station in the country programmed entirely for the black community. The station went on air on June 7, 1947, from studios on Union Avenue in downtown Memphis. Not only did the station feature black radio personalities, but it also brought awareness to a relatively new market of listeners. The station’s influence and popularity reached the Mississippi Delta’s dense African-American population, and WDIA’s broadcasts were heard from Missouri to the Gulf Coast, reaching 10 percent of the African-American population in the United States.
The SEEK Museum in Russellville, Kentucky, recognizes the work of journalist Alice Allison Dunnigan with a life-size bronze statue and an exhibit about her achievements. The civil rights pioneer struggled against the twin strikes of racism and sexism to become the first female African-American admitted to the White House, Congressional and Supreme Court press corps. As the Washington correspondent for the Associated Negro Press, she worked with Congress to pass legislation that allowed her to obtain these press credentials in 1947. She then reported on national affairs with a focus on civil rights and other matters that were important to African-Americans. She also served on the president’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and worked for several years to enforce compliance of the Civil Rights Acts.
The Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, is a multicultural center with an award-winning museum that captures the inspiration of Muhammad Ali’s legendary life. A visit to the center is not just an experience but also a journey into the heart of a champion. Visitors to the center will experience interactive and multimedia exhibits and discover Ali’s six core principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality.
Fueled by these principles, Ali became the best athlete he could be. He also garnered the strength and courage to stand up for what he believed and provided inspiration to millions of people around the world, regardless of ethnicity, religion, culture, gender or age.
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.
About the U.S. Civil Rights Trail
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks primarily in the Southern states where activists challenged segregation in the 1950s and 1960s to advance social justice.
Famous sites include the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas; the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth’s where sit-ins began; the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; and Dr. King’s birthplace in Atlanta, to name a few. The people, locations and destinations included in the Civil Rights Trail provide a way for families, travelers and educators to experience history firsthand and tell the story of how “what happened here changed the world.” For details about dozens of significant sites and to see interviews with civil rights foot soldiers, visit CivilRightsTrail.com.
About the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance
A project that began in 2015 to nominate a few civil rights landmarks as potential UNESCO World Heritage Sites uncovered more than 100 National Park Service sites, National Historic Landmarks, and other highly qualified and recommended sites for consideration to UNESCO. By March 2017, it was obvious that this first ever inventory of important civil rights locations was not inclusive of all the destinations that could be part of a campaign to share the story of freedom.
And thus the concept of creating the U.S. Civil Rights Trail was born. Thanks to the leadership of Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, 14 state tourism offices – in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia – and the District of Columbia tourism group joined together to create the U.S Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance, LLC, incorporated in Atlanta in October 2017. The website, CivilRightsTrail.com, was promoted through a licensing agreement with the state of Alabama. Travel South USA, a nonprofit marketing organization, serves as the no-fee business office for the Alliance, and the agency of record for the Alliance is Luckie & Company with offices in Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia.