According to Foodezine, Alabama’s capital represents an important place in the fight for voting rights, with the Alabama State Capitol Building serving as the final point of Selma ‘s third march for voting rights . But the significance of Montgomery is much more than what happened at the iconic Capitol. In this city, you can not only visit museums and memorials commemorating the Civil Rights Movement, but you can also visit the Church of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks’ place of arrest and Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr.’s courthouse. That these three notable leaders were in Montgomery further marks the city as an important place of activity of the civil rights movement.
10 Places in Montgomery, Alabama that you shouldn’t miss
1. ALABAMA STATE CAPITOL
At the end of the third march from Selma to Montgomery, 25,000 people gathered on the steps of the Capitol to see Dr. King to deliver his famous speech, “How Long, Not Long.” The building, which housed Governor George Wallace’s office, has been renovated and restored to its original condition.
2.CIVIL RIGHTS MEMORIAL CENTER
“…until it rolls straight down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” The famous paraphrase of Dr. King of Amos 5:24 is carved into the black granite of the Civil Rights Memorial, a moving tribute to those who died in the civil rights struggle between 1954 and 1968. It was designed in 1989 by Vietnam Memorial architect Maya Lin. monument is next to the Civil Rights Memorial Center, sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Visitors are encouraged to touch the engraved names of the martyrs and reflect on their sacrifices.
The center includes exhibits, educational activities and materials, a theater, and the Wall of Tolerance.
3.MOTHERS OF GYNECOLOGY
In Montgomery, artist and tour guide Michelle Browder has erected a monument to Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey, three enslaved women who underwent surgery without anesthesia by James Marion Sims, often referred to as the “father of gynaecology.” Erected in September 2021, Browder’s statue features the women Browder calls the “Mothers of Gynecology.” Bart was given an impressive tour.
It’s a really horrible event about which Bowder says “No one talks about these women and their sacrifices and the experiments they went through. And so I think if you want to tell the truth about this history, we should tell everything.”
4.CITY OF ST. JUDE
Founded in the mid-1930s by a Catholic priest, the town of St. Jude included a hospital, church, and high school and championed health, education, and social services regardless of race. In 1951, the hospital was the first in the Southeast to integrate. In 1965, the City of St. Jude welcomed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 2,000 participants in the Selma-to-Montgomery March, which allowed them to camp on the athletic fields. Today, most of the hospital has been converted into apartments for low-income families. There are plans to renovate the unused portion and turn it into an interpretive center and reenactment site run by the National Park Service.
5.THE LEGACY MUSEUM: FROM ENSLAVEMENT TO MASS INCARCERATION
The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration is located near the former site of one of the most prominent slave auctions in the country and just steps from the train station that trafficked tens of thousands of enslaved people during the height of the slave trade . With Montgomery’s proximity to the fertile Black Belt region and the plantations that needed workers, the city became the capital of Alabama’s domestic slave trade. After the Civil War, slave ownership ended with emancipation, but racial inequality and injustice did not. Through immersive exhibits and videos, the Legacy Museum offers visitors the opportunity to both explore the past and reflect on its impact on today’s society.
6.ROSA PARKS MUSEUM
This impressive museum is where Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for not giving up her seat on the bus to a white man.
Rosa grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, at a time when black people were required by law to stand up for white passengers on public transportation. Rosa was done with that and remained seated. The police were called in and fined her $10. She refused to pay it and Rosa was therefore arrested.
The incident ended up with Martin Luther King, who called for a bus boycott. Black Americans got up extra early to walk to work instead of taking the bus. Free “taxi stands” were also created, manned by locals who took the boycotters to their destination. For example, they dealt a major blow to the transport company, which almost went bankrupt after more than a year. Among other things, this action eventually led to an end to racial segregation in public transport
She became an important symbol in the fight against racism, and continues to serve as a role model for the current generation of activists today.
The bus in the museum is a replica. The real bus in which it happened is in the Ford Museum in Detroit. The city where Rosa was forced to move to in the early 1960s because she lost her job after her protest and received death threats.
7.THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the first memorial of its kind, recognizes the thousands of lynchings across the US, many of them undocumented. In almost all documented cases, the perpetrators were never punished. Such violence and injustice caused terror and trauma among blacks in the South and led 6 million of them to flee the region. Those who did not leave were subjected to racial segregation and Jim Crow laws. At the memorial, visitors can walk among 800 six-foot monuments that symbolize racial terror in all its forms, reflect on our nation’s evil past, and be inspired to take action to reshape our cultural landscape.
8.FREEDOM RIDES MUSEUM
Hundreds of students, white and black, traveled together in buses from the north into the deep south to protest racial segregation in public transportation. This cost them dearly and they were even attacked. The museum is in a former Greyhound bus station. Restored to its 1961 appearance, this rehabilitated bus station is the site of the attack on Freedom Riders as they arrived at the station.
9.HOLT STREET BAPTIST CHURCH
On the evening of December 5, 1955, in the wake of Rosa Parks’ arrest, 5,000 people gathered at Holt Street Baptist Church. They filled the sanctuary, the basement auditorium, and even poured out to welcome the newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., heard. His rousing speech advocating action without violence led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Now called Holt Street Memorial Baptist, the church is still active today within the Montgomery community, although no longer in its original location.
10.DEXTER PARSONAGE MUSEUM
The restored rectory of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church looks as it did when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family lived here during Dr. King from 1954-1960. The parsonage was bombed several times during the civil rights campaign, but thankfully no one was injured.