Alabama has been the forefront of many historical acts including the civil rights movement. Black history exudes throughout the state in cities such as Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham, Tuskegee and Tuscaloosa. There are hundreds of museums, churches and other structures visitors can explore and learn about Black history. Although we are currently in a global pandemic, many of these attractions have been altered to abide by social distancing and safety guidelines. Below is a list of some of the top Black History attractions in Alabama.
Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail – Tuscaloosa, AL
This trail was created to demonstrate Tuscaloosa’s place in civil rights history. The official trail starting point takes place at Capitol Park located on 6th Street. Tuscaloosa was the state capitol from 1826-1846. Capitol Park holds the remains of the former Alabama State Capitol building, which burned down in 1832. It was at this building where the state legislature met and enacted the slave codes in 1833. The historic trail ends at the Howard-Linton Barbershop. This barbershop played an important role in the civil rights movement. Black ministers would meet here and plan their campaign on civil rights. It was also the place where protesters sought comfort after the attacks of “Bloody Tuesday.” Along the Civil Rights History trail, visitors are presented with markers that tell the stories of the civil rights movement and segregated businesses in the city.
Birmingham Civil Rights District – Birmingham, AL
Birmingham served as another pivotal point of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. This area includes historic attractions such as: the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, and 16th St. Baptist Church. Kelly Ingram Park is surrounded by statues which depict fire hoses and police dogs being used against peaceful protestors. All of these attractions in this district show the difficult reality of the fight for equal rights.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice/Legacy Museum – Montgomery, AL
This is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved Black people, people terrorized by lynching and other acts of violence and injustice. The memorial was inspired by the work of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) which is a private non-profit organization. At this memorial people can gather and reflect on America’s history of racial inequality.
The Legacy museum is built on the site of a former warehouse where enslaved Black people were imprisoned. It is also located between a historic slave market and the main river dock and train station where thousands of enslaved people were auctioned and sold. The museum highlights the difficult reality of slavery, lynching and the Jim Crow South.
National Voting Rights Museum – Selma, AL
This museum addresses the struggle and hardship that accompanied gaining voting rights and human equality. The museum is ironically located at the foot of the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge, which is where the brutal attacks of “Bloody Sunday” took place. Exhibits inside the museum detail events leading up to the Selma-to-Montgomery march. Some of them also provide brief history on the civil rights movement throughout the south.
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site – Tuskegee, AL
The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site was the training center for the first African American fighter and bomber pilots in the U.S. military. These pilots were famously known as the Red Tails. The historic site is located adjacent to Moton Field Municipal Airport. Moton Field was the only primary flight facility for African American pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps during the Second World War. At the site, visitors can enjoy exhibits that detail the story of training, life at camp, and much more.