Tourism Tuesdays November 28, 2017

In the South and North, new (and vital) civil rights trails
You can now follow in the footsteps of the US Civil Rights movement
Blind Boys to perform Martin Luther King Jr. tribute in Birmingham
Iron Bowl pulls best TV ratings of 2017 season
Governor Ivey to light official state Christmas tree
Governor’s Mansion open for candlelight tours on Monday nights in December
“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


In the South and North, new (and vital) civil rights trails
From the article by Alyson Krueger in The New York Times:

Two years ago representatives from Southern state tourism departments gathered at Georgia State University to start work on what would become the nation’s first civil rights trail.

They knew their states were dotted with landmarks that commemorated significant events in the struggle for racial equality. In Arkansas, for example, there is Little Rock Central High School, where nine brave African-American students enrolled in an all-white high school. In Alabama the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site honors black pilots who risked their lives during World War II even as Jim Crow laws denied them rights at home.

While many sites were thriving on their own, some weren’t connected to one another, even ones nearby, said Lee Sentell, Alabama’s state tourism director. “No one had even done an inventory of civil rights landmarks,” he said. “They saw themselves as one-offs and didn’t realize they were part of a network.”

The group, under the umbrella of Travel South USA, decided to do something about it.

Along with research experts at the university, they made a list of 100 sites that seemed most significant. They linked them geographically, creating a map of how to get from one to another. The trail, called the US Civil Rights Trail, will be officially introduced to the public on New Year’s Day (the date is significant: On Jan. 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation).

The trail’s website will explain each landmark’s importance and feature interviews with heroes of the movement. The site also makes connections for visitors, showing how the events in one place affected those in another. For example, Bruce Boynton, a law student who was arrested for refusing to leave a whites-only restaurant in Virginia (a case later heard by the Supreme Court), was the son of the woman, Amelia Boynton, who invited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to visit Selma and who helped plan the march from that city to Montgomery, Ala.

“Hopefully when people hear about the civil rights trail, it will make them aware there are locations near where they are that changed the world,” Mr. Sentell said. “I’m just surprised this hadn’t been done earlier.”

In the last few years a loud debate has raged across the country over what to do with Confederate statues. While those arguments are focused on whether to tear down or remove monuments, other government officials, nonprofit groups and entrepreneurs have been more quietly constructing new ways to focus on the history of civil rights. Some efforts, like the US Civil Rights Trail, are intended to bring more attention to existing sites. Others are building new structures that better explain what took place in the past.

“These projects are positive spins on the social injustice, monument discussion happening in our country,” said Jeanne Cyriaque, a cultural heritage consultant for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “They describe a people’s movement that is very much at the forefront today.”

She played a major role in helping the state of Georgia create the Georgia Civil Rights Trail, which will launch in April 2018, in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary — April 4 — of King’s death. This initiative, which will have its own website, printed maps and signage, will take visitors to lesser-known sites like the brick house in Grady County, where Jackie Robinson was born. Another stop is the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, one of the oldest operating African-American churches in North America, which has colorful stained glass windows depicting black church leaders like the Rev. George Liele, who organized First African Baptist in 1773.

“People already come to visitor centers and ask about the civil rights sites and where they can find them,” said Kevin Langston, the state’s deputy commissioner for tourism. “We expect some people will come to Atlanta for a meeting or convention, and they will seek out sites in the area. Other people who are intrigued by the civil rights movement might plan a trip to experience the whole thing.”

These projects are not just in the South. In 2016, New York State, in conjunction with the company Black Heritage Tours, began offering tours to teach visitors the hidden history of African, Native American and Dutch populations during colonization. The tours, which last from one to three days, go from New York City to Albany along the Hudson River. Stops include the easily missed Harriet Tubman Statue in Harlem; African burial grounds; and mansions owned by Dutch settlers who owned slaves. Visitors can see the basements, attics and kitchens where slaves slept.

L. Lloyd Stewart, a consultant for nonprofits and the author of the book “A Far Cry From Freedom,” went on one of the inaugural tours last summer with several other participants. “Americans can be very deficient in the history of their own country,” he said. “We don’t realize that enslavement began in New York State, and this tour gives you an idea about that. It gives you a picture of what life may have been like during that period.”

And they aren’t just trails and tours. In Montgomery, Ala., the first capital of the Confederacy, the nonprofit group Equal Justice Initiative has purchased six acres of land on which it is building a memorial to honor the victims of lynching. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is expected to open in April 2018. The renderings are powerful; 800 columns, one for each county where lynchings took place, are suspended in the air like hanging bodies. The names of more than 4,000 victims are inscribed on them. (The idea is for each county to bring home a column as an acknowledgment of what occurred.)

The organization also plans to open a museum, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration.

In Jackson, Miss., the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is scheduled to celebrate its opening on Dec. 9 with food trucks, live music, free museum tours and speeches by civil rights veterans. The museum includes eight galleries that explore the experience of African-Americans in Mississippi from the end of the Civil War until today.

In Nashville, one notable project is more entrepreneurial. Tom Morales, who owns the live-music venue Acme Feed & Seed,  leased the historic building that once was the home of a Woolworth store where sit-ins occurred during the ‘60s and the civil rights leader John Lewis was arrested. He is turning the 16,000-square-foot space into a live music venue and restaurant called Woolworth on 5th that will pay homage to the civil rights movement. It is expected to open in January.

Mr. Morales said that the sit-in counter will be fully reconstructed and will look as it did in the ‘60s. The menu will feature African-inspired recipes and Southern comfort food. The music, spanning 1950 to 1979, will include different genres, including funk.

The most effective way he can honor the past, he said, is to be inclusive as possible. “The best thing we can do right now is create a place where anyone can come,” he said. “We are creating a welcome table that doesn’t ignore the past but salutes it and brings it into the future. We are going to serve great food and dance and invoke the strongest emotions of peace and fun.”

For the complete article please see

You can now follow in the footsteps of the US Civil Rights movement
From the article by Trisha Ping on Lonely

The USA is launching a national Civil Rights trail in January 2018, the 155th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and Dr. Martin Luther King’s birth month. The US Civil Rights Trail links more than 100 museums, monuments, parks and historically significant places related to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The battles of this movement inspired similar pushes for civil rights worldwide and still serve as a model for activists challenging systemic injustice today.

Though individual cities and states had previously put together Civil Rights trails, most notably Alabama, this is the first extensive inventory of structures related to the movement – and the first time they’ve been linked across state lines. Doing so should make seeing these important sites much easier for visitors, says Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, who helped lead the push for a national trail. “By arranging more than 100 destinations on a map across 14 states, clusters emerge. Potential visitors can see how close locations are to one another,” he explains. “[It’s] a one-stop guide.

”For example, visitors making a pilgrimage to Memphis for the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King this April can easily see that they’re just a short drive from the Emmett Till Museum in Mississippi, or Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, which was desegregated in 1957 with help from the National Guard.

More than just linking sites for visitors, the US Civil Rights Trail is likely to spur further historical documentation and preservation as local organizations search for locations in their communities that might be eligible to join the official trail. “Several states are now compiling in-state civil rights lists that include a wide range of major and minor locations,” says Sentell.

Though the trail is national, most of the sites are in the Southern USA. The region’s openly discriminatory laws, known colloquially as ‘Jim Crow’ legislation, were the main focus of activists. However, cities as far north as Wilmington, Delaware – home of Howard High School of Technology, one of the five schools cited in Brown vs. Board of Education – and as far west as Topeka, Kansas, where that lawsuit was argued, are also included on the trail.

“The common thread of all the 100-plus sites is reflected in the phrase ‘what happened here changed the world,’ ” Sentell says, citing the trail’s tagline.

For the complete article please see

Blind Boys to perform Martin Luther King Jr. tribute in Birmingham
From the article by Mary Colurso on

The Blind Boys of Alabama are set to perform a Martin Luther King Jr. tribute concert in Birmingham as part of the Alabama Bicentennial.

The show, planned for Jan. 14, 2018, at the Alys Stephens Center, will feature an orchestra conducted by Henry Panion III and seven choirs from universities around the state.

Singers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham Southern College, Miles College, Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Talladega College and Tuskegee University will participate.

Tickets for the 5 p.m. event in the Jemison Concert Hall are $24-$44, available at 205-975-2787 or the Stephens Center website. The concert is part of a three-year Bicentennial celebration organized by the City of Birmingham.

The Blind Boys, a harmonizing gospel troupe with a long and distinguished history, are led by Birmingham native Jimmy Carter. He’s the longest-performing member of the Blind Boys, formed in 1939 at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, and the group’s charismatic figurehead.

The title song of the Blind Boys’ 2017 album, “Almost Home,” will be featured at the Birmingham show, in a version arranged by Panion for the large ensemble. Carter, now in his mid-80s, says the group’s mission has remained the same for more than 70 years.

“Our message is God,” Carter said in a 2013 interview with “We want to tell people about God. We sing for him. We’re working for him. Our message is that God is here for you. If you’re without hope, he can give you hope. If you go to one of our concerts, and you go back the same way you came in, we’ve failed you. We’re here to touch people’s lives and make them happy.”

Carter also believes that music can be a catalyst for change.

“I know music can get in the heart,” he said. “I know it can do that. I’ve seen it melt people. Perhaps it can change people. We’ve come a long way from the Bull Connor days, but we still have a long way to go. Music is universal. I know that. You can be an atheist or an agnostic, and you can still love pretty music.”

The Blind Boys concert is scheduled the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day,  a national holiday marking the birthday of the slain cvil rights leader and pointing to his legacy.

“No celebration of Alabama’s rich musical history can be complete without recognition of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose life’s devotion to civil and human rights, including his most important ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’ served as a source of inspiration for many artists, including the Blind Boys of Alabama,” Panion said in a statement. “And having a mixed and diverse group of singers from colleges and universities throughout the state of Alabama is representative of the spirit and dreams that Dr. King expounded.”

Alabama will commemorate its 200th birthday in 2019. From 2017 to 2019, events and programs throughout the state are drawing attention to this milestone and highlighting the achievements of Alabamians.

Birmingham launched its campaign with an Oct. 27 concert at the Lyric Theatre, showcasing the Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards, “American Idol’ winner Ruben Studdard, an orchestra led by Panion and other performers.

For the complete article please see

Iron Bowl pulls best TV ratings of 2017 season
From the article by Brandon Marcello on

The Iron Bowl rivalry is No. 1.

No. 6 Auburn’s 26-14 victory against No. 1 Alabama pulled a rating of 7.8/17 overnight to make it the most-watched college football game on any network this season.

The game is also CBS’s highest-rated regular-season college football game since the 2013 Iron Bowl, which pulled an 8.6/18 rating. Auburn won that game 34-28 with the Kick Six.

Auburn’s victory against Alabama peaked near the end of the game with a rating of 10.7, according to CBS.

The Tigers (10-2) next travel to Atlanta to play Georgia (11-1) in the SEC Championship game. That game will also be televised on CBS at 3 p.m. CT.

The winner likely advances to the College Football Playoff.

For the complete article please see

Governor Ivey to light official state Christmas tree
Governor Kay Ivey will light the state’s official Christmas tree during a special ceremony Friday, Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. on the front steps of the state Capitol.

“Lighting the Christmas tree at the Capitol is a wonderful, tangible, example of the peace and warmth the Christmas season brings,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “I hope every Alabamian will join us for this special event, as we kick off the holiday season.”

The tree-lighting ceremony will also honor first responders and other heroes. Christmas music will be performed by Will and Janet McFarlane, the husband and wife singing and songwriting duo from Muscle Shoals, and the 151st Army Band of the Alabama National Guard.

The Christmas tree is a 35-foot Eastern red cedar grown in Bullock County that was donated by Ray Allen owner of Feather’s Properties. It is adorned with more than 40,000 LED lights and 67 stars representing each of Alabama’s counties.

More information is available about the Capitol Christmas tree-lighting ceremony online at

Governor’s Mansion open for candlelight tours on Monday nights in December
Gov. Kay Ivey will open the Governor’s Mansion for candlelight tours on the first three Monday nights in December from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Designers have volunteered their time to decorate the Governor’s Mansion and the neighboring Hill House for the candlelight tours. “This is the people’s house and I want to share it with them during this special Christmas season,” said Ivey.

Tickets for the tours are available free of charge at the gift shop prior to the tours each day. The gift shop is located at 30 Finley Ave. across the street from the side entrance of the mansion.

The interior design companies working on decorating the mansion include Southern Posies, Lynne Coker Interiors, Invision Events, Hollyhock Gallery, Limerence Design, Hibiscus House & Interiors and Katherine Trantham Interior Design.

Choirs scheduled to perform include the Trinity Presbyterian Church and Tuskegee University Golden Voices on Dec. 4, Albertville High School Vocal Ease on Dec. 11 and Prattville First United Methodist Church on Dec. 18.

The Governor’s Mansion is a 1907 Colonial Revival house located at 1142 South Perry St. in Montgomery and has served as the official residence for governors of Alabama since 1951. The neighboring Farley-Hill House became part of the Governor’s Mansion complex in 2003 and will also be open for the candlelight tours.

The mansion will be open for candlelight tours from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11 and 18. More information is available about the Governor’s Mansion candlelight tours by going online at

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
2018 is right around the corner. As you gear up for the new year, remember to add events to your partner page. Creating events in advance ensures they will be approved and published with time for users to see them. Don’t have all your event details planned yet? Not a problem. You can always edit events to change or include more information.

Head over to and fill up the event calendar today!



Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:

To subscribe to the newsletter please contact Dwayne O’Riley at:

Alabama Tourism Department