Tourism Tuesdays August 14, 2018

New York and Washington papers showcase U.S. Civil Rights Trail

The Globe and Mail:  On a trip to Alabama, I showed my teen son the history of the Civil Rights Movement

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 7 pivotal historic sites along Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail

Alabama Restaurant Week continues across the state

Alabama Bicentennial has big plans for its final year of celebration

Music hall of fame to unveil hip-hop exhibit

2018 Alabama Welcome Center Retreat set for Huntsville Marriott, Oct. 14-16

Registration open for the 2018 Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee Rural Tourism Conference

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


New York and Washington papers showcase U.S. Civil Rights Trail
The New York Times and The Washington Post, the nation’s two most influential newspapers, published separate travel features last Sunday on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail that the Alabama Tourism Department launched in January.  Together, the stories covered four pages.

Both touch on the famous 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that dismantled legal segregation. Each was by a veteran writer who knows his region well. Missouri journalism professor Ron Stodghill covered sites in the Midwest for the New York paper.

The Washington story about a small school in Virginia was contributed by Ken Woodley, the former editor of the newspaper in Farmville, Va. The Farmville story has Alabama connections: the niece of pastor Vernon Johns who preceded Martin Luther King Jr. at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church is at the heart of the Farmville story. Barbara Johns convinced her black classmates to strike for facilities equal to those of whites. It occurred at a Virginia school named for the president who succeeded Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute. Woodley interviewed Alabama tourism director Lee Sentell, who developed the trail.

Under the headline “New U.S. Civil Rights Trail leads to a little-know Virginia museum,” the story begins, “It lacks the renown of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, but Robert Russa Moton High School in Prince Edward County, Va., played a seminal role in the course of America’s human events. And now the site is getting its due – as part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail launched this year.

“The trail comprises more than 100 locations in 14 states. Some are well-known, such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., where law enforcement officers beat civil rights marchers in 1965 on what became known as Bloody Sunday. Others are practically unknown, such as Moton High; even many Virginians are unaware of its importance.”

“The trail offers a timeline of significant dates in the civil rights movement. The student walkout at Moton High, which happened four years before Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. – is listed first. On April 23, 1951, 16-year-old Barbara Rose Johns led the student body at Moton High, a segregated, all-black school, into direct, nonviolent protest against the separatist stance of “Jim Crow.” Their two-week strike was a defiant public stand against the separate and clearly unequal conditions at the overcrowded school, which included auxiliary classrooms that were little more than tar-paper shacks. A resulting lawsuit was absorbed into the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education Topeka Kansas that outlawed legal segregation.”

The writer asked Sentell about the purpose of the Trail. “The old adage is true. We must know our history if we are not to repeat the mistakes of our past,” Sentell said.

The civil rights story dominated the Sunday Travel section of The New York Times, with a three-page spread complete with color photos.

Journalist Stodghill writes, “I had set out on a nicely scripted jaunt to several sites listed on the United States Civil Rights Trail, a driving tour recently coordinated by state tourism agencies. The tour wends its way across 15 states and a succession of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks where activists challenged segregation in the 1950s and 1960s, largely in the South. Initially, if the idea of landmark-hopping through a couple of states seemed an efficient way to gain insight into major events of the civil rights era, my compulsion to go rogue and wander off the map often got the better of me. Ultimately, I designed and followed a kind of hybrid trail, cobbling together sites designated by the tourism departments with decidedly middle-America places whose histories I believed were either too important or intriguing to pass by.

“To be sure, it’s only natural that a civil rights tour would find its heart in the South, in the epic and well-chronicled battles for equal access to public education, public transportation and voting rights. In Greensboro, N.C., you can visit the Woolworth’s lunch counter where black college students staged sit-ins; in Selma, Ala., walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where a bloody march led Congress to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act; or in Memphis, visit the church where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, and the Lorraine Motel, the site of his assassination, now expanded into the popular National Civil Rights Museum.

“The United States Civil Rights Trail is heavy with tales of blacks struggling to gain access to an adequate education, but the theme crescendos in Topeka, Kan., a designated trail site, where Oliver Brown, the father of a black schoolgirl, challenged the nation’s “separate but equal” doctrine and changed the course of history. Monroe Elementary School, one of the city’s four segregated schools for blacks, is now converted to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Reading exhibits in its well-preserved hallways, I took in riveting details of how Brown’s third-grade daughter Linda’s desire to attend the elementary school close to her home, but which was all-white, would lead to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that helped dismantle racial segregation in the United States.

“Some two hours north, off a two-lane gravel road in Diamond, Mo. – and off the designated trail –  I encountered a prominent black success story at the George Washington Carver National Monument, established in 1943 by the National Park Service as the first installation dedicated to an African-American. Carver, born around 1865 into slavery, rose to become one of the world’s most renowned chemists, his inventions, agricultural research and teaching praised around the world. In his day, Carver was a kind of nerd celebrity: in 1921, when the peanut industry was seeking tariff protection, Carver appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee as the industry’s expert witness. He was also modest: as Carver, who died in 1943, once said of his legacy: “The primary idea in all of my work was to help the farmer and fill the poor man’s empty dinner pail.”

For the complete articles please see®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=3&pgtype=sectionfront and

The Globe and Mail:  On a trip to Alabama, I showed my teen son the history of the Civil Rights Movement
Editor’s note:  Heather Greenwood Davis visited Alabama in June to research an article on the Civil Rights Movement.  She worked with Kim Smith and Dilcy Hilley with the Birmingham CVB and Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department. Davis also worked on a future article about Space Camp. The Globe and Mail is a Canadian newspaper printed in five cities with a weekly readership of more than 2 million and a combined 6.5 million weekly audience for print, website and social media.

From the article by Heather Greenwood Davis in The Globe and Mail:

Most of the monologues that I deliver at my house start out as an attempt at conversation with my teens. I raise some issue in the news, mention a similar event from the past and within a few minutes, their glazed eyes tell me they’ve moved on to counting down the moments until they can return to their game of Fortnite.

It’s frustrating, but I get it.

I remember my own parents trapping me as I tried to tiptoe past them while they watched the evening news. Despite their insistence, I paid little attention to the major events of the day.

This, despite being only a few years removed from the American Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, being alive during Muhammad Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle and being well into my teens when Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

Huge historical events were happening right before my eyes, but they felt as foreign to my life as the First World War lectures in my classroom.

Recent news events that have women’s marches, Black Lives Matter protests and a fight over the Ontario sexual-education curriculum as front-page news, feel like history revisited. But for my kids, despite the fact that these events will have a direct bearing on what they learn, how they’re treated and who they become, it’s the equivalent of being trapped to watch the evening news.

Add social-media streams that make it possible for them to avoid any news that feels un-fun, and you have a generation of teens who may be even more removed from historical lessons than I was.

If I was going to get their attention, I’d need to shake things up. So, in June, I took Cameron, my 13-year-old son, to Alabama.

Maybe, if he stepped into the places where civil-rights history was made, he’d have a greater sense of its importance. My timing couldn’t have been better. The U.S. Civil Rights Trail was launched earlier this year and highlights more than 100 sites across 14 states that were pivotal to the movement. In Alabama alone, there are 28.

We start our tour in Birmingham. The corner of 16th Street and 6th Avenue North, where we meet our tour guide, historian Barry McNealy, is central to any civil-rights discussion. Behind us is the Civil Rights Institute – part museum, part gallery and part historical archive. But the church across from us is what drew me here.

On Sept. 15, 1963, in Birmingham, the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. Inside, four school girls – Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair – were killed as they prepared for Sunday school.

Three of the girls were 14 years old. The other was 11.

As McNealy tours us through the church and tells the story of the girls, I watch it register with my son. But then McNealy says something I hadn’t heard before: The girls weren’t the only ones in the church that day.

Upstairs, Carolyn Maull, a 14-year-old Sunday school secretary was in the church office. When the phone rang that morning with a warning of a bomb blast in three minutes, it was she who answered. And when it exploded, blowing her off her feet and killing the girls below, she survived.

McNealy continues the tour by leading us across the street to the monument for the girls in Kelly Ingram Park.

There, we stop to hear how Martin Luther King, Jr. arrived after the blast, rallied the children of Birmingham and set them out on what would become known as the Children’s Crusade. Children, by some reports as young as 6, would leave the church, 50 at a time, with an intention to protest segregated lunch counters, shops and buildings. Most didn’t get farther than this park; met by armed tanks, high-pressure firehoses and dogs sent by the Birmingham police.

Standing in the spot where it happened sends chills across my skin. There were children the same age as Cameron who were knocked to the ground in this park. There were parents just like me who had to watch it happen.

At the time, the news accounts of this march would lead to an international uproar and become a pivotal moment in the movement. As we listen to McNealy, a woman passing the group stops and says hello. McNealy introduces her as “Ms. Carolyn McKinstry.” She offers quick pleasantries and continues across the street.

McNealy seems surprised we aren’t more interested. He points at the church and repeats her first name as she leaves. The possibility hits Cameron and me at the same moment: This Carolyn is that Carolyn. Carolyn Maull is now Carolyn McKinstry. We say it out loud and McNealy nods in excitement. It was as if Rosa Parks had stepped off the local bus, said “Hello, I’m Rosa,” and then continued on to Costco.

I’m rendered speechless but Cameron springs into action. He takes off running and catches up to her down the street. From my frozen spot in the park, I watch them chat, hug and – as is required of any teen traveller – attempt to take a selfie. When that proves too tough, they stop a passerby (who we’d later find out is Andrea Taylor, the director and CEO of the Civil Rights Institute) to help. He returns to me beaming.

“That was her!” he says to me shaking his head in disbelief. “That was her.”

There isn’t a story we hear on the rest of our trip through Alabama that isn’t affected by that moment. This history isn’t age-old. It’s alive and breathing and waiting for us to meet it. My monologues have had a little more weight ever since.

The writer’s trip to Alabama was supported in part by Brand USA, Alabama Travel, American Airlines and Marriott International. They did not review or approve this article.

Looking for ways to introduce your kids to hard-hitting subjects?

Connect the history of the place you’re visiting with something relatable
On our Civil Rights trip, historical events that involved kids his own age, made stories relevant for my son. Something as simple as an audiobook autobiography of a key historical figure can help to make a visit to a museum or historic place more relevant and relatable. Reading The Diary of Anne Frank before visiting Amsterdam will bring the book to life.

Look for exhibits that capture the emotion of an experience
At the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Ala., exhibits focus on the pathway from enslavement to mass incarceration. Down the road, you can also walk among 800 six-foot tall monuments at the National Memorial to lynching victims. As you walk past the columns they increase in distance from the ground, so that by the time you reach the middle, they are hanging hauntingly above you. At the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, entrants are given a race identity card and your entrance experience to the museum is delivered accordingly.

For the complete article please see

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution: 7 pivotal historic sites along Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail
Editor’s note:  Candace Dantes with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did a special travel feature on the Alabama Civil Rights Trail. Dantes worked with Lee Sentell, Brian Jones and Dwayne O’Riley with the Alabama Tourism Department to gather information and photos for the article.

From the article by Candace Dantes in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution

It’s a Southern trail that tells the tale of fighting for national social justice.

The Alabama Civil Rights Trail documents the real-life routes and landmarks leaders like Ralph Abernathy, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to gain equality and change for all.

Because the trail has grown to include more than 20 sites across Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham, Lee Sentell, the state’s tourism director, identifies seven of the most pivotal sites from the trail and civil rights movement worth the road trip to experience for yourself:

Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
454 Dexter Ave., Montgomery, Alabama
“The preserved Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church appears as it did when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served here as pastor from 1954-1960,” said Sentell. “The 1883 church was the site of mass meetings to organize the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott and is known as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement. A large mural depicts the struggles of the movement and landmark moments in King’s life.”

Rosa Parks Museum
251 Montgomery St., Montgomery, Alabama
“We have historic markers designated where Rosa Parks boarded the public bus and where she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger at this particular site,” Sentell said. “The Rosa Parks Museum, located at the site of Parks’ famous arrest, is centered on her story and its significance to the civil rights movement. It also features a restored bus and other related artifacts.”

Civil Rights Memorial Center
400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, Alabama
“Dr. King’s famous paraphrase of Amos 5:24 – ‘Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream’ – is chiseled into the black granite of the Civil Rights Memorial,” said Sentell. “This center is a moving tribute to those who died in the civil rights struggle between 1954 and 1968.” Created by Vietnam Memorial architect Maya Lin in 1989, the memorial sits adjacent to the Civil Rights Memorial Center, sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center includes exhibits, educational activities and materials, a theater and the Wall of Tolerance.

Edmund Pettus Bridge
U.S. Highway 80 at Water Avenue, Selma, Alabama
“Now a National Historic Landmark, the Edmund Pettus Bridge was the site of the brutal Bloody Sunday beatings of civil rights marchers during the first march for voting rights,” said Sentell. “The televised attacks were seen all over the nation, prompting public support for the civil rights activists in Selma and for the voting rights campaign. After Bloody Sunday, protestors were granted the right to continue marching, and the third attempt proved successful.” The bridge became a centerpiece in the 2014 historical  film “Selma” directed by Ava DuVernay.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
520 16th St., North Birmingham, Alabama
This modern museum features a model of a segregated city during the 1950s, a replica of a Freedom Riders bus and even the actual door to the jail cell that held Dr. King, which is where he wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” “It boasts 58,000 square feet of archives, galleries, community meeting rooms and exhibit spaces that trace the civil rights movement in Birmingham from the city’s early days as a mining community to the present,” said Sentell.

16th Street Baptist Church
1530 6th Ave. North, Birmingham, Alabama
“Despite its tragic past,” said Sentell, “16th Street Baptist Church is still an active church in the Birmingham community today. During the civil rights movement, the church served as a meeting place for the organization of marches and other civil rights activities.” In 1963, the church was bombed, resulting in the deaths of four young black girls: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair and Carole Robertson. This event galvanized the federal government to take action on civil rights legislation. The church is part of the Birmingham Civil Rights District that has been designated a national monument.

Kelly Ingram Park
5th Avenue 16th Street, Birmingham, Alabama
“Kelly Ingram Park served as an assembly spot for activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other groups in the civil rights movement,” Sentell said. “Visitors can walk through the now peaceful park to see artists’ interpretations.” The Freedom Walk sculptures include two children seen through jail bars, a trio of praying ministers and an image of a dog threatening a young man. A statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. faces the 16th Baptist Church. The park also is part of the Birmingham Civil Rights District that has been designated a national monument.

For the complete article please see

Alabama Restaurant Week continues across the state
More than 90 restaurants are offering lunch and dinner discounts to encourage customers to try new dishes during the seventh annual Alabama Restaurant Week Aug. 10-19, state tourism officials announced.

The two-course lunch specials range from $10 to $15 while three-course dinners cost from $10 to $40, not including tax, tip and drink. Restaurants have the option of offering specials at both lunch and dinner or choosing to offer just lunch or just dinner specials.

“This is a great opportunity for people to try restaurants in their hometown and other places in the state while saving money,” said Alabama Tourism Department restaurant week coordinator Courtney Austin.  “There are no coupons or discount books to buy or bring.  Diners at the participating restaurants simply ask for the Alabama Restaurant Week special.”

Restaurants that have signed up to offer the specials include favorites like Cotton Row in Huntsville, Bottega in Birmingham, Cahawba House in Montgomery, The Trellis Room in Mobile and Lulu’s in Gulf Shores.

Restaurants in close to 20 cities across the state have been included in Alabama Restaurant Week. Cities with participating restaurants include: Auburn, Birmingham, Fairhope, Gulf Shores, Huntsville, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Orange Beach and Tuscaloosa.

A full list of participating restaurants and the specials they are offering can be found at

The Alabama Tourism Department is using the hash tag #DineAlabama18 on all of their social media channels to promote Alabama Restaurant Week. These social media channels include:,, and

Alabama Bicentennial has big plans for its final year of celebration
From the article by Michael Tomberlin on

You only turn 200 once. That’s the reason Alabama decided to spend three years celebrating its bicentennial.

What started in 2017 is halfway through what will culminate on the actual bicentennial of Dec. 14, 2019. The state and communities across the state have big plans for the final year, Jay Lamar, executive director of the Alabama 200 Bicentennial Commission, told the Economic Development Association of Alabama at its Summer 2018 Conference.

“We are halfway there and we will be announcing the final year on Dec. 14,” Lamar said. “That is Alabama Day and it happens to be a Friday. So at 10 o’clock in the morning, Gov. Ivey will make an announcement for the whole state, for the whole country to know that we are about to kick off a great year.”

Starting Jan. 1, there will be events taking place in the state every week to celebrate the bicentennial. Places like Huntsville, where the first constitutional convention for the state took place, have significant milestones to mark. Other communities will celebrate their history and people in various ways.

Traveling exhibits will highlight aspects of the state history. For example, Airbus has sponsored an exhibit on the state’s rich history in aviation and aerospace.

Lamar said the long celebration has always been viewed as an economic development and tourism tool to encourage people to visit sites throughout the state. The PastPort project launched earlier this year was part of that initiative and now a mobile PastPort app has been released to further that goal.

On Aug. 3, Gov. Kay Ivey announced the 200 Bicentennial Schools in the state. Earlier this year, K-12 schools submitted a proposal that engages in outreach and improvement projects to connect classrooms with their communities.

From nearly 400 entries, the top 200 projects were chosen to receive $2,000 grants to help implement those projects. Another 56 honorable mention schools will receive $500 grants.

Schools were chosen through a review process involving committees of educators, community leaders and other state residents.

“It makes me so proud to see such a strong showing of schools participating in the program,” Ivey said at the announcement.

“It is an honor to recognize these outstanding schools and their projects as we head into Alabama’s bicentennial year. The Alabama Bicentennial celebration is about bringing communities together and getting all of our citizens involved. The schools being honored are a great representation of that goal.

”The school projects range from oral histories to community gardens to mentorships.

“One of the core objectives of the bicentennial is to get Alabamians thinking about what makes our state special, and what they want it to be,” said Steve Murray, co-chair of the Bicentennial Commission’s Education Committee.

“The terrific projects developed by the Alabama Bicentennial Schools will create opportunities for students to learn about the importance of community, and to discover the ability they have to shape the future of their corner of the state.”

School involvement, teacher education and other initiatives that are part of the Alabama 200 Bicentennial Commission are meant to not only celebrate the past but look ahead to the future.

“The bicentennial is important because it is also setting the stage for our third century, Alabama’s third century, so we’re very much looking to the future as well,” Lamar said.

The actual bicentennial will be marked with a parade, birthday cake, the dedication of Bicentennial Park and other fanfare on Alabama Day, Dec. 14, 2019.

For the complete article please see

Music hall of fame to unveil hip-hop exhibit
From the article by Russ Corey on

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame will unveil a new permanent exhibit dedicated to recognizing the state’s hip-hop music scene and some of its artists, producers and entrepreneurs.

The opening of the exhibit is set for 2 p.m. Aug. 28 and will include a panel discussion featuring Codie G and GMANE, hosted by Big River Broadcasting’s M. Fletcher Brown of KIX96.

Alabama Music Hall of Fame Director Dixie Griffin said the exhibit’s purpose is to make visitors aware of hip-hop’s place in Alabama and to recognize the various achievers from across the state.

“This showcase is a good introduction to people about Alabama’s hip-hop talent,” Griffin said. “The genre has been around for decades now, and there’s a lot more here than people realize.”

Museum Curator John Moseley said the Florence and Huntsville hip-hop scenes have been extremely proactive with the project.

“I think all the credit is due to them, especially Codie G and GMANE,” Moseley said. “We’ve tried to fit as much as we can into this space.”

For the complete article please see

2018 Alabama Welcome Center Retreat set for Huntsville Marriott, Oct. 14-16
The Alabama Welcome Center Retreat gives the Alabama Tourism Industry the opportunity to showcase our communities with the devoted staff of the Alabama Welcome Centers. Each center closes so that all employees participate in this educational retreat. The industry trade show gives us the opportunity to share with the staff members of each center exactly what we have for them to share with their guests, the thousands of travelers stopping at Welcome Centers for travel advice! Hopefully, we will give them enough to entice their visitors to stop, see and stay a little longer with us!

The Registration Fee is $150 for all industry partners, with or without a table top. This fee includes a table top in the Tourism Partner’s Showcase and functions through Tuesday morning breakfast. Each additional partner pays $150 as well. This fee goes up to $175 on Oct. 1. There will be NO refunds after Nov. 1 as we will have given all guarantees to our sponsors and to the hotel by then.

For Details Contact: Patti A. Culp, Alabama Travel Council: or 334-271-0050

Registration open for the 2018 Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee Rural Tourism Conference
Registration is now open for the 2018 Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee Rural Tourism Conference, which will be hosted at the historic Pitman Theatre in downtown Gadsden on Oct. 22-24. The Pitman Theatre will be the site of all educational sessions and the host hotel is the Holiday Inn Express and Suites. Speakers will share their experience and expertise on a range of topics including social media training, agritourism and wineries, marketing to millenials, and tourism and the digital movement. Conference events will also be held at Noccalula Falls Park, Back Forty Beer Company and Gadsden Museum of Art. An early bird rate of $95 per person is available until Oct. 5. Registration is $150 per person after Oct. 5. To register for the Alabama-Mississippi-Tennessee Rural Tourism Conference, visit

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Down, Set, Hike! College football season is almost here. Do you have a special event planned, or maybe your hours change on gameday? Get ahead of the game and update you Partner information to let visitors know.

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