On October 23, 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center opened the Civil Rights Memorial Visitor Center. The Center expands the experience of the Civil Rights Memorial, which honors the memory and achievements of those who lost their lives during the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Memorial was designed by famed architect Maya Lin, who also crafted the Vietnam Wall memorial.
In addition to state-of-the-art exhibits and in-depth information, the Center houses a 69-seat theater, a classroom, a section dedicated to contemporary social justice issues, and the Wall of Tolerance, where visitors can add their name as they pledge to help end social injustice.
The Civil Rights Memorial and Center are located at 400 Washington Avenue. The Center is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is $2 for adults and free for children 17 and younger. For more information, phone 334-956-8200.
In February 2006, the Rosa Parks Library & Museum opened its Children’s Wing. The Children’s Annex provides a museum experience on the Montgomery Bus Boycott that is much more children focused, tailored specifically for their age and comprehensive abilities. Through the use of multi-media presentations via a “Time Machine,” the Children’s Annex helps to educate young people about segregation and what was happening in America at the time of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and other events leading up to the modern Civil Rights Movement. A scholar’s research area in the Children’s Wing captures Montgomery’s history and Civil Rights history found only at this historical site in Montgomery including artifacts, oral histories, historical documents, and art for high school students and adults.
The main Museum provides a reenactment experience involving the activities of Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and involvement of other early Civil Rights leaders. Visitors to this fascinating interactive museum are able to put themselves in the place of the courageous seamstress, Rosa Parks, who sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Tired from a long day at work, she refused to yield her seat to a white passenger. The museum features a recreated street scene and replica of the bus, while video footage transports witnesses to the fateful day. Additional exhibits lead visitors on an emotional journey through the days of the Bus Boycott, which became the first step on the often difficult path to civil rights in America.
The Rosa Parks Library & Museum and Children’s Wing is operated by Troy University and is located on the Montgomery campus at 251 Montgomery Street. The museums are open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is $5.50 for adults and $3.50 for children ages 12 and younger. For more information, call 334-241-8615.
In addition to touring historic Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, which was the pulpit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, and which served as a focal point during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, visitors can also see the Dexter Parsonage Museum. Built in the 1920s, this historic house served as the home to several ministers of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his family lived here from 1954 to 1960 while he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Visitors to the Church, a National Historic Landmark, may see the modest pulpit where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. first preached his message of hope and brotherhood. A large mural in the church depicts King’s civil rights crusade from Montgomery to Memphis.
The Parsonage Museum is open for tours from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Please call ahead at 334-261-3270 to schedule a tour.
The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church is open for tours from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. To schedule a group tour, please call 334-263-3970 at least one week in advance.
The Lowndes County Interpretive Center, which opened in August 2006, is the first of three planned National Park Service visitor centers along the Selma to Montgomery National Voting Rights Trail. The Trail was established by Congress in 1996 to commemorate the events, people, and route of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama. The route is also designated as a National Scenic Byway/All-American Road.
This significant contribution to the trail serves as a reservoir of information for the plethora of unfortunate, yet significant, events that occurred in Lowndes County during the march. The museum exhibits interpret various events, including the confrontation of seminarian Jonathan Daniels; the slaying of Viola Liuzzo, a white woman who assisted the marchers by transporting them to Selma; and the establishment of “Tent City,” the temporary dwelling comprised of tents, cots, heaters, food, and water, which benefited families dislodged by white landowners in Lowndes County.
The $10 million structure was made possible through collaborative efforts between the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration and the Alabama Department of Transportation. In addition, advisory councils, community leaders and representatives were instrumental in the development of the interpretive center.
The Interpretive Center is located midway between Selma and Montgomery and is open daily from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. year round. There is no charge for admittance. Groups of 10 or more wanting tours should call 334-877-1983 at least one week in advance. School groups should bring one chaperone for every 10 students. If you have students with special needs, please contact the park at least two weeks in advance of your visit and indicate the type of need you have.