The Alabama Civil Rights Tourism Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Formally we were established in 2019 but the idea and work of developing the Association began over a decade ago. We work hand-in-hand with the Alabama Department of Tourism to encourage and facilitate travel to our state for Social Justice and Civil Rights and partner with the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium.
Our mission is to develop sustainable tourism options, education and training, plus operations in order to generate tourism revenue for the sites and the communities where they are located. We primarily operate tours in Montgomery, Tuskegee, Selma, Marion, and Birmingham, but we often include the quilters and folk artists in rural areas such as Gee’s Bend, Camden, etc.
While we focus on Alabama, our scope expands to the US Civil Rights Trail, depending on the requests from clients and we coordinate visits to Atlanta, Memphis, Jackson (MS), and New Orleans for interested groups.
Operationally, our staff has decades of experience as tour operators working along the lines of eco-tours and bespoke experiences. Our leadership is composed of a mix of travel industry and local expert guides who were part of the Movement. Services range from consultation and resource advice to full itinerary planning with content. We can do as little or as much as an organization might need all the way to the full operation of tours with all items included. Though we may actually do the work of content development and operations, our name stays in the background.
Our primary audience for revenue generation includes demographics well outside of Alabama. Most are from the West Coast and Northeast. Groups are mostly affinities which represent entities such as university alumni groups, museum patrons, churches, and community centers. We operate for many of the nation’s most premier travel sellers and marketers.
From the proceeds of these revenue generation activities, we are able to assist Alabama middle and high school students, SPECIFICALLY from underserved communities, to access historical civil rights sites and by utilizing our guides to expand the narrative for these students. Often students from underserved areas in Alabama, specifically African American communities, do not have the opportunity to visit these historical sites, so our investments allow them to do this.
Students learning outcomes are expanded as we incorporate the Civil Rights narrative through music, poetry and various forms of art…..or Art of the Movement.
Students (and really all travelers) are presented with ideas of how music and art helped to enhance the organization of the movement thru mass meetings and general expression of feelings. These socio-cultural artistic expressions show how important and pivotal a role that various art forms were in shaping and advancing the flight for equality. Students ultimately realize that countless works and expressions of art (through various designs….quilts, music, literature, painting, sculpture, and oral presentations) were outlets as artists reacted to the issues of segregation, racism, Jim Crow laws, and black identity.
Our key to success is working with our partners. Local historians who excel in the art of storytelling share their experiences and the member sites of the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium work to assist with field study experiences. The consortium is a collaboration among 20 historic places of worship, lodging and civic engagement that played significant roles in the African American struggle for freedom. While recent history focuses on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, these institutions have been dedicated to improving the quality of Black life since Reconstruction.
This experience has been preserved through the passion, commitment and herculean efforts of dedicated volunteers who are committed to saving, not only these historic properties, but their important stories. Taken together, these sites provide a historical, social and cultural context for the movement that changed our state, nation, and world. Moving forward, we hope our combined efforts will continue this important work to assure that this legacy is preserved for today and future generations.
As we endeavor to create a better society, we encourage you to discover Alabama, the 20 places that changed the world, celebrate and preserve our shared cultural legacy and pass all of this on to a new generation.