How to Celebrate Black History Month in Montgomery, Home of the Civil Rights Movement
From the Rosa Parks Library and Museum to the Civil Rights Memorial there's plenty to experience in February and the entire year.
Known as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, Montgomery is inviting "those seeking a purposeful and meaningful travel experience to visit the destination" throughout February, or those choosing to honor Black history any time of the year with a future stay.
"The current social justice movement has ignited an overwhelming desire and demand for educational and purposeful travel," Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President, Dawn Hathcock, shared in a statement. "Montgomery provides visitors with an enlightened perspective that they can't find anywhere else. Our thought-provoking cultural and civil rights experiences remind us of how far we have come and inspire us to continue fighting for change."
The chamber added, there area number of indoor and outdoor experiences available for visitors looking for a "safe and social-distanced opportunity to find hope, strength, and healing by physically walking the path of those who came before us," including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Judge Frank M. Johnson, who all called Montgomery home.
Want to plan a trip? Here's a selection of destinations and experiences honoring Black History now, in February, and every day thereafter.
EJI's Legacy Museum
The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, located on a site in Montgomery where enslaved people were once warehoused, reopened its doors in October with new exhibits on the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Visitors are currently asked to wear face masks and social distance from others. For an outdoor alternative, the chamber suggests visiting the National Memorial for Peace & Justice, the nation's first and only memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved African Americans and people terrorized by lynching and humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow.
Rosa Parks Library and Museum
The Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University celebrates the "accomplishments of individuals associated with the Montgomery Bus Boycott." Inside, guests will find both permanent and rotating exhibits. Here too visitors are required to wear face masks, and groups must be eight or fewer in number. For an outdoor alternative, the chamber suggested a visit to the Rosa Parks Statue in downtown Montgomery, located just feet from where Rosa Parks boarded the public bus on Dec. 1, 1955.
The Civil Rights Memorial
The memorial, designed by Maya Lin, chronicles the history of the Civil Rights Movement and is a "contemplative place to remember those killed during this turbulent period of history," the chamber noted. The memorial is engraved with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s paraphrase of Amos 5:24, "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
The church, which is a National Historic Landmark, is home to the very pulpit used by Martin Luther King Jr. Though interior tours are currently closed, visitors are welcome to view the church from the outside.
Dexter Parsonage Museum
The museum is the actual one-time home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He lived with his family in the residence from 1954 to 1960. Again, interior tours are closed, but guests are welcome to view the home from the outside.
Freedom Rides Museum
The Freedom Rides Museum, an official destination on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, tells the story of 21 young people who changed America's history through nonviolent protest. The museum is currently operating at reduced capacity, but guests are still invited to tour the space with advanced ticketing options.
Frank M. Johnson Jr. Federal Building and United States Courthouse
The historic courtroom where Frank M. Johnson Jr. legalized desegregation of buses in 1956 and, in 1965, ruled that the march from Selma to Montgomery was legal and could continue, is open to tours by appointment.
Chris' Hotdogs has been in operation since 1917. According to the Chamber, it was "one of few eateries to ignore segregation laws and feed all its hungry customers equally. Chris' Hotdogs is a place where everyone, including young and old, rich and poor, Black and white, from any country are welcome and can all dine harmoniously in this wonderful institution."
When Brenda's opened in 1942, Montgomery was still segregated. At the time, the chamber explained, members of the local NAACP held secret meetings in a back garden, where they taught African Americans how to read and write in order to take the poll tests, created to discourage them from voting. Today, Brenda's still serves its legendary BBQ flavors and is well worth the lunch stop.
Barbara Gail's Neighborhood Grille
The Bethune family opened Barbara Gail's in 2007. Located on the Selma to Montgomery Trail, this diner serves one of the best breakfasts in town, making it the ideal place to start your journey.