A 6-City Black History & Resistance Road Trip

Memphis, TN

-Lorraine Motel (where MLK was shot)
-Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
-I Am a Man Plaza (honoring the legacy of the 1968 sanitation workers who went on strike)
-Rock ’n’ Soul Museum
-Beale St
-A Walmart in Arkansas

Lorraine Motel
Jacqueline Smith’s Campaign

“Until the lion has a historian, the hunter will always be the hero.”

It is nothing but an uphill battle to reclaim, preserve and share history that does not fit within the general public memory. It becomes even more difficult when the heroes and villains, the oppressors and the victims of the past have already been defined and one then tries to retroactively redefine and add new meaning to those roles. How often are we taught to conceptualize enslaved Africans as utterly helpless? As incapable beyond the confines of what their slave holders allowed them to be? On the contrary, as was emphasized on this tour, their state of violent oppression fueled a desperate and powerful spirit to utilize all at their disposal in the quest for liberation.

  • Spirituals with coded language (“Angels” means “Abolitionists” — both start with the letter A; “Jordan”, a reference to the Jordan River, refers to the Mississippi River or the general boundary between bondage and freedom)
  • Talking drums (an instrument utilized by the enslaved when they were forbidden to sing)
  • Quilts (abolitionists sowed symbols into quilts to communicate to those escaping e.g. a monkey’s wrench = start preparing for the journey; a wagon = the journey begins now)
  • Lanterns (specific kinds of lanterns were placed in the windows of houses to indicate a place of refuge)
Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum — WDIA Exhibit (America’s first black radio station)
I Am a Man Plaza (tribute to 1968 sanitation workers who went on strike)

Birmingham, AL

-Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
-16th St Baptist Church (a major organizing hub for local protests and site of the November 1963 KKK bombing killing 4 Black girls)
-Kelly Ingram Park (site of the viral 1963 images/videos of “Bull” Connor’s dogs and hoses being unleashed upon peaceful protestors)
-Vulcan Park & Museum (tribute to Birmingham’s iron and steel industry [“the Pittsburgh of the South”] and home of the largest cast iron statue in the world)

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Statute at Kelly Ingram Park

“the strength of a person’s voice is not derived from the loudness of their voice but from the depth of their reality.”

The drive we have to remain committed to any struggle must come from a place of deep emotional connection. To intimately know and articulate the experiences of your people means possessing a felt history that does not simply exist in books or articles but in the hearts of people. I think too often I want to rush in championing a cause without having fully grasped the lives and stories of those most impacted. Such understanding requires patience and an acknowledgement that holding even some of the pain of others takes time.

the honorable Betty
Four Spirits by Elizabeth MacQueen (tribute to the 4 daughters killed in the 1963 16th St Baptist Church bombing)
Kelly Ingram Park
View from Vulcan Park

Montgomery, AL

[Stayed at the Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum]
-Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) Legacy Museum
-EJI’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice (Lynching Memorial)
-Rosa Parks Museum (commemorating the legacy of Rosa Parks as well as Jo Ann Gibson Robinson and the Women’s Political Council in the 1955 bus boycott)
-Riverfront Park
-1st White House of the Confederacy

EJI National Memorial for Peace and Justice Statute
Quote from National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Site of Rosa Parks’ Arrest
Original copy of the resolution initiating the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott (Rosa Parks museum)
Montgomery Mural

Atlanta, GA

-National Center for Civil and Human Rights
-Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park (comprises King’s birthplace, family church, and tomb)
-Sunday Services at Ebenezer Baptist Church
-The Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam
-Springreens Community Cafe (local halal soul food joint)
-Atlanta History Museum (home of the Cyclorama, a 360-degree painting standing 49 ft tall and over 360 ft long depicting the Battle of Atlanta in the Civil War)
-ATL’s Little Five Points neighborhood
-Knicks vs. Hawks: Game 3 at State Farm Arena (Ice Trae/Hawks in 7 pls)
-Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park
-The Roof at Ponce City Market

NCCCHR
Community Cafe
Ebenezer Baptist Church Worship Service
MLK Birthplace Home
MLK and Coretta Scott King’s Tomb
Little 5 Points MLK Mural

Nashville, TN

-Bella Meade Slave Plantation
-Witness Walls (public artwork honoring the fight for racial equality in Nashville)
-Meyer Wolfe Exhibit (the son of Lithuanian immigrants best known for his portraits of Nashville’s Black Community)
-Nashville Public Library: Civil Rights Room and Votes for Women exhibit
-Woolworth on 5th (initial site of Nashville’s 1960 sit-in movement)
-Country Music Hall of Fame
-Nashville Parthenon (full-scale replica of original Parthenon in Athens as part of 1897 TN Centennial Exposition)
-TN Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park Event (celebrating 225 years of statehood)
-Five Points and The Gulch neighborhoods

Bella Meade — Main Mansion
Robert Green
TN Woman Suffrage Monument
TN — “The Perfect 36”
I Hide My Face Before the Lord (1935) by Meyer Wolfe
\View from John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

Louisville, KY

-Muhammad Ali Center
-Grave of Muhammad Ali (on 6/3/21, the 5th anniversary of his passing)
-Muhammad Ali’s childhood home
-Breonna Taylor Memorial
-Kentucky Center for African American Heritage (unveiling of the Blank Slate Monument)
-Grave of Colonel Sanders

Grave of Muhammad Ali
Ali’s Childhood Home
Ali Center
Some of Ali’s gear
One of Ali’s drawings
#BreonnaTaylor
Blank Slate Monument
Blank Slate Monument Closeup
Nashville, TN Mural

Full Itinerary

Memphis, TN
-Lorraine Motel (where MLK was shot)
-Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
-I Am a Man Plaza (honoring the legacy of the 1968 sanitation workers who went on strike)
-Rock ’n’ Soul Museum
-Beale St
-A Walmart in Arkansas

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