Civil Rights Tourists Head to Alabama

In Tuskegee, visitors can see the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, the training grounds for a segregated group of World War II pilots who proved that blacks could not only fly planes in combat, they could do it expertly.

For Rep. Alvin Holmes, the longest-serving black member of the Alabama Legislature, the droves of tourists visiting civil rights and black heritage attractions is an amazing site. "I never dreamed in the '60s when we were marching, getting beat up by brutal police officers and going to jail that one day thousands of people would come to see these sites. I thought many of the people who were killed would never be remembered," he said.

If You Go…

A sampling of civil rights attractions in Alabama by city:

BIRMINGHAM: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (520 16th St. N.) traces the civil rights struggle in the South. Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (corner of 16th Street and Sixth Avenue) was where a 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing killed four black girls. Kelly Ingram Park (between 16th and 17th streets) was the site of numerous civil rights protests and has depictions of demonstrators being attacked by police dogs and water hoses. MONTGOMERY: Rosa Parks Museum (252 Montgomery St.) salutes the woman whose arrest prompted the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church (454 Dexter Ave.) is where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor while leading the bus boycott. The state Capitol (600 Dexter Ave.) is where the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march ended in 1965 and where Gov. George Wallace made his "segregation forever" speech in 1963 and Jefferson Davis took the oath as president of the Confederacy in 1861. The Dexter Avenue Church Parsonage (309 S. Jackson St.) is the home where King lived in Montgomery; it was recently restored with many of the furnishings he used. The Greyhound Bus Terminal (210 S. Court St.) is where the Freedom Riders were beaten in 1961. It is closed now, but a museum is planned. The First Baptist Church (347 N. Ripley St.) and Holt Street Baptist Church (903 S. Holt St.) were the site of many rallies. SELMA: The Edmund Pettus Bridge (U.S. 80 across the Alabama River) was the site where voting rights marchers were beaten in 1965. The National Voting Rights Museum (1012 Water Ave.) traces the battle for the right to vote. Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church (410 Martin Luther King St.) was the site of many rallies and where the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march began. TUSKEGEE: The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (1616 Chappy James Dr.) is where the nation's first group of black military pilots trained in World War II. Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site (1212 Old Montgomery Rd.) includes 27 landmarks associated with black educators Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. BOOKS: "A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement" by Jim Carrier (Harcourt, $14); "The Best of Alabama" by Lee Sentell (Seacoast Publishing, $12.95; telephone orders available for an additional $3.50 shipping and tax from 205-979-2909.) ROAD: A 43-mile (69-kilometer) route between Selma and Montgomery has been designated an "All-American Road" by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation for the America's Byways program. For information to help you plan a drive there, click on Alabama at the www.byways.org Web site. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit the state's official tourism site, www.800alabama.com

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