It’s easy to tour civil rights sites on your own, but there are reasons to take a guided trip. It lets someone else do the driving, and the trips are often guided by extraordinary experts to help put the history and sites into perspective.
It’s possible to customize a tour, and throughout the year community groups, colleges and alumni associations also offer trips to significant sites, usually on multi-day bus tours. Most are open to every one.
- One of the best is Freedom Lifted, a Chicago company run by a woman with roots in the South.
- Sojourn to the Past, a California-based non-profit, has been giving tours since 1999 and has developed deep connections in the Deep South. The tours hit all the major civil rights sites from Georgia to Arkansas, and adds in some surprises too. Most impressive are the speakers the organizers arrange to meet each tour group, including actual participants in the historic events. While most programs are designed for students, it does offer trips that can include families.
Packaged and specialty tours
- Road Scholar offers an eight-day Heart of the Civil Rights Movement tour visiting Atlanta, Montgomery and Birmingham.
- Grand Circle Travel offers an extensive 11-day “Let Freedom Ring!” tour from Jackson, Mississippi to Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, before ending in Mobile, Alabama. For first-time travelers, earn a $100 discount by mentioning name Lawrence B and Customer Number 2966437
- The Nation magazine offers an extensive weeklong trip in October 2020 and February 2021, through Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. It’s led by Andre Robert Lee, a teacher and filmmaker.
- The University of Pennsylvania Alumni Association has a four-day tour focused on Alabama in October 2000, led by professor Herman Beavers.
- The University of Rochester Alumni Association has a weeklong trip traveling from Memphis to Montgomery in March 2021. It’s led by senior associate dean John Barker.
- Distant Horizons, a sponsor of alumni association tours, has a special trip in spring 2021, visiting Jackson, Little Rock, Memphis and Montgomery. It’s led by Andre Robert Lee, a teacher and filmmaker.
- The Montgomery County, Maryland Office of Civil Rights offers an annual Freedom Experience trip leaving from the Washington, D.C. area, and visiting Greensboro, North Carolina; Atlanta; Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham, Ala.; Jackson and Money, Mississippi; and Memphis, Tenn., before motoring back to Maryland.
School trip planners
- Educational Travel Adventures and Explorica by WorldStrides have set tours for school groups, while Hemisphere Educational Travel, Concept Tours, and Brights Park Travel can organize trips for your group.
- UK-based Rayburn Tours will customize tours for British groups.