Civil Rights Sites and Museums in the United States

What are the key Civil Rights Movement locations in the United States?

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From the National Civil Rights Museum and the King Centre to the thought-provoking Bethel Baptist Church, the locations and museums in the United States linked to the Civil Rights Movement are important places to explore. A list of some of the prominent Civil Rights movement historic sites to visit can be found below. Click on the title of each for further information. With this list of locations relevant to Civil Rights history you can find out more about the story behind each location.

1. National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel is the sight of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It has in the last several years been turned into the National Civil Right Museum. Across the street from the motel is the building and room in which James Earl Ray fired the shots and this also forms part of the museum. As well as examining the events that led to the assassination and the investigation that followed, the National Civil Rights Museum hosts a number of exhibitions chronicling key episodes of the US civil rights movement and its legacy.

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2. Martin Luther King Jr National Site

The Martin Luther King Jr National Site in Atlanta, Georgia is dedicated to commemorating the life of the leader of the African-American civil rights movement and chronicling his campaign for racial equality. Visitors to the Martin Luther King Jr Historic Site can visit Dr and Mr’s King’s crypt at the King Centre, view his birthplace and see exhibitions and films about Dr King’s life and the civil rights movement. There are also exhibits about Gandhi, who inspired Dr King and about Rosa Parks, whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus was an iconic event of the movement. Most of the tour is self guided, except for those who visit Dr King’s birthplace, which is led by a ranger.

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3. The King Centre

The King Centre in Atlanta, Georgia commemorates Martin Luther King Jr, a Baptist minister and the leader of the African-American civil rights movement. Dr King was assassinated on 4 April 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and his joint crypt with his wife is located at the King Centre. Visitors to the King Centre, which is part of the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site managed by the National Parks Service, can embark on a self guided tour to see his final resting place as well as viewing exhibits about Dr King.

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4. Bethel Baptist Church

The site of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama played a crucial role in the fledgling American Civil Rights movement. From 1956 until 1961 Bethel Baptist Church was the headquarters of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights which strove to ensure equal rights through non-violent means and fought against policies of segregation. As well as serving as the headquarters for this group, the Bethel Baptist Church was a key site during the 1961 Freedom Ride. The church building was also attacked three times by extremists, in 1956, 1958 and 1962. Today the Bethel Baptist Church holds a small museum to the Civil Rights movement.

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5. African American Museum - Philadelphia

The African American Museum in Philadelphia explores the history and heritage of African Americans, from culture, literature and art to politics. The main collections at the African American Museum in Philadelphia relate to the history of Philadelphian African Americans in the twentieth century, from exhibits about the city's chapter of the Black Panthers to sports paraphernalia.

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6. DuSable Museum of African American History

The DuSable Museum of African American History is a museum in Chicago which explores the history and culture of African Americans. Its exhibits include several murals, paintings and sculptures representing prominent African Americans and an exhibit looking at the history of African Americans in the armed forces. The DuSable Museum also offers an insight into the civil rights movement from 1848 to 1968.

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Our list of Civil Rights Sites and Museums in the United States may not be complete. If you know of other places you feel should be added please get in touch via our contact page.