Best Places To Visit Civil Rights History In The U.S.

Martin Luthor King Jr Memorial
Alves Family, Flickr

It has been half a century since the historic March on Washington, when the nation’s citizens converged on the capital calling for civil and economic rights for African Americans. To mark the 50th anniversary, we rounded up several great destinations where you can retrace the steps of the Civil Rights Movement.

Montgomery, Alabama. This city is packed with significance and there are a number of civil rights sights for history buffs to absorb. You can see the bus stop where Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat, visit the Freedom Rides Museum housed on the site of an early confrontation and witness the site of the 1965 Voting Rights March, to name but a few options.National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee. This museum, which traces the history of the Civil Rights Movement, is housed in a complex of buildings including the Lorraine Hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. You can even visit King’s room — 306 — which has been recreated to look exactly like it did on that fateful day.

Selma, Alabama. Visitors to this town can see the site of the Selma to Montgomery marches, including the 1965 protest that ended in a bloody clash with police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Don’t miss the National Voting Rights Museum, which recounts the story of the marches and the campaign to end voting-related discrimination.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta, Georgia. This historic site recalls the life of the civil rights leader, including the home in which he grew up, a museum, the church where his father preached and his tomb.

See Chicago wieners (and others) on IgoUgo list

Chicago makes several appearances on IgoUgo’s list of top hotdog establishments, but there are plenty of spots across the country where you can pick up a great hotdog. My favorite apparently made the cut – a shortcoming of the list, I guess. For me, it doesn’t get better than Popo’s, in Swampscott, MA, and my local shop, Gray’s Papaya, is no slouch, either.

And, don’t forget that there are some dogs to be found outside the United States. I’ve had interesting eats in Stockholm, Montreal, East Anglia, Reykjavik and Madrid. That said, IgoUgo‘s honor roll is packed with fantastic hotdoggeries, and you’re bound to find something that satisfies the basest of “culinary” urges.

Get IgoUgo’s suggestions and reasoning after the jump.

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From IgoUgo:

Portillo’s, Chicago: “The hot dogs are all beef and are definitely the best in town. The cup of hot gold might not be real cheese, but darn, it’s good.”

Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island: “Sure, you can get their hot dogs at airports and malls throughout the country now, but they taste different in New York.”

Pink’s, Los Angeles: “Who knew you can fit two hot dogs in one bun (The Today Show Dog)? There’s even a crazy option with three hot dogs in a tortilla (Three Dog Night).”

Puka Dog, Koloa, HI: Located in a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shopping center,” Puka Dog’s homemade buns are spiked and warmed from the inside out before the bun is filled with a secret garlic-lemon sauce and topped with a veggie dog or a polish sausage – and star fruit, mango, or papaya relish.

Hot Doug’s, Inc., Chicago: “Not only do they have the classic Chicago-style dog but they also have the Elvis (with Polish sausage) and the occasional game”-try the alligator dog with blue cheese and order the duck-fat fries.

The Dog Out,San Ramon, CA: When walking into the Dog Out, the feeling is “it is going to be a fun meal.” Keep an eye out as sometimes the manager comes around with free ice cream for everyone.

The Wiener’s Circle, Chicago: There is not a Chicago-style hot dog like those “at The Wiener’s Circle (after midnight).” This place is one of character, “famous for people yelling and swearing at each other before they take part in the monstrosity that is cheese fries.”

Wright’s Dairy Rite, Staunton, VA: Open since 1952, this classic drive-in restaurant has had car-hop service since its inception. Inside, there’s a phone at every booth to call in your order. “The dogs come in regular size and Dogzilla, a 1/3-pound dog served on a sub bun.”

Chris’ Hot Dogs, Montgomery, AL: “Chris’ Hot Dogs is a dive, but everybody knows it was one of Hank Williams’ hangouts.” The place is dark, dingy, and kind of seedy, but the hot dogs are great. Regulars range from “construction workers to the governor.”

SuperDog, Portland: SuperDog prides itself on its natural and homemade goodies like “all-meat chili, soup, and cheesecake…yes, cheesecake.” The hot dogs are “the best,” the buns are “out of this world,” and, if you’re lucky, the beer on tap is “SuperDog IPA.”

Five famous fathers: Visit where they lived with their children

For a Father’s Day nod to famous fathers, it seemed apropos to do a post on Father’s Day travel with a twist. Read a biography of famous men and it may take more than a few paragraphs to get to their children. The children seem tucked in between those details that made a man famous. Regardless how much or how little press is given to the offspring, there are landmarks where these men lived with the people who helped keep their legacies alive.

Although these are the sites we head to to find out about what made these men tick as contributors to the rest of us, they are also the places that children called home, and where the men who might have tucked them in at night were called “Dad” (or “Papa,” or “Father” or “Pops” or some other variation) by those people whose tiny hands they once held in their own.

Here are five men through history who have had an influence on the world and where you can visit where they lived with their children. From humble houses to elaborate palaces, here are five places where you can imagine the varied conversations that happened within the walls–the type that only fathers and children share.

1. Henry VIII (Religion)–Hampton Court Palace, London. This Tudor palace is where King Henry 8th of England, with a penchant for beheading his wives, lived the most. It’s a gorgeous piece of architecture with a fascinating history and a remarkable maze in the garden. Henry’s three children used this palace as a haven after they became adults as well. Son Edward was christened in the chapel and Mary spent her honeymoon here. Henry died when Edward was nine. The two daughters were older. Henry’s desire to divorce his wives led to the England’s shift away from Roman Catholicism.

2. Abraham Lincoln (Politics)–Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield, Illinois. This is a hallmark year to visit the house where Lincoln lived with his family prior to becoming president. Take a guided walk in the neighborhood where Lincoln took strolls, probably with sons Robert, Willie and Tad (son Edward died.) Lincoln brought the North and South back together.

3. Claude Monet (Art)–Monet’s House and Gardens, Giverny, France. Monet moved to this lovely farm with his family and lived here for 43 years. Here he painted is famous works connected to Impressionism and provided a haven of art and creativity for his brood made up of eight children. When you look at Monet’s studio where he painted, inspired by the garden on the property, imagine what his children saw and how the smell of paint and flowers were prominent in their lives.

4. Martin Luther King Jr.(Civil Rights)–Dexter Parsonage Museum, Montgomery, Alabama. Visit the house where Martin Luther King Jr. lived where he was a young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist church. This is where he was living with his four children and wife when someone threw a bomb onto the porch. You can still see the damage. No one was hurt. The house looks as if the King family just stepped outside for a moment. It’s a step back in time for sure. King’s message of equality provides hope and drive to those who are struggling for equal rights. If it wasn’t for him, and those who rallied behind his words, where would we be?

5. Elvis Presley (Music and Popular Culture) Memphis, Tennessee–Graceland. No matter what a person thinks of the over-the-top decor of Graceland, it’s the place where Elvis felt at home and he lived with his wife Priscilla and daughter, Lisa Marie until Priscilla moved out, taking Lisa Marie with her. Still, this is the home where Lisa Marie can still go to remember her dad who made a big time impact on popular culture and music. The photo is of Lisa Marie’s swing set in the back yard.

World Heritage Site new “Tentative List”: Places to Love: Civil Rights Movement Sites

For the Gadling series “World Heritage Site new “Tentative List”: Places to Love” we are covering the 14 sites that have been submitted for possible inclusion as an official World Heritage Site in the United States. The sites will not be posted in order of importance or in the order they appear on the list.

Number 1

Name of site: Civil Rights Movement Sites

Location: Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama.

Reason for importance (in a nutshell): Three churches, Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery and the Bethel Baptist and 16th Street Baptist Churches in Birmingham, all historically African-American, played significant roles during the Civil Rights Movement.

Jamie’s Take: Of all the places on the new Tentative Sites list, these are perhaps the most humble and each hold enormous significance to American history. During Black History month, this is a fitting time to pay tribute. Here’s why:

Picture Martin Luther King Jr. standing at the simple pulpit of what was then called Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. From 1954 to1960, he was the pastor of this church, preaching his message that pulled people into a movement that changed history. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was organized from here. The church today looks similar to what it did back then–even the pulpit is still there.

In Birmingham on September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Hatred killed four girls while they were putting on their choir robes. Members of the Klu Klux Klan were responsible. The bombing played a large role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The church, in the heart of the Civil Rights District of Birmingham, still operates as a church today. In 1873, when it was founded, it was the first African American church to in Birmingham.

From 1956-1961, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) was headquartered at the Bethel Baptist Church. The early Civil Rights movement efforts were organized here, including the Freedom Ride bus trip that helped lead to the desegregation of bus transportation. This church was bombed several times and is now a National Historic Landmark.

Martin Luther King Jr.: The house where he lived in Montgomery is a museum

Two Decembers ago, we left Columbus, Ohio for Montgomery, Alabama to visit a friend of ours and travel a bit on the Civil Rights Trail. This is a trip, I think, people should make if they get the chance. You can get to Montgomery from anywhere, and our friend doesn’t still live there, but Montgomery is a wonderful city for a weekend trip with sites that are family friendly, well worth a stop, and enough sweet tea that you can float away. One day I’ll put together a longer feature with suggestions on how to organize your trip and what to do, but for this post, here’s a plug for my most favorite place that I think of often.

At 309 South Jackson Street is one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s former homes. He lived here with his family from 1954 to 1960 during the time he was organized the bus boycott and was preaching at the Dexter Ave. Baptist church. The house, the church’s former parsonage, is now The Dexter Parsonage Museum, a place that looks frozen in time. Besides being able to see the porch damaged when someone tried to kill King with a bomb, but to no avail, the house looks like the family could have just stepped out while you’re passing through for the hour or so tour.

For a walk through of late 50s, early 60s home decor, this is it. The kitchen was my favorite room since it’s set up with household products typical of the time.

One of the wonderful qualities of the museum is the woman who curates it. She went to King’s church as a child and has memories of him placing his hand on her head. Her story, how she came back to Alabama to her hometown after years away, is an important story of American history as well.

This museum is a place with heart and soul, and I think should be on the list of must see places important to American history, even though, as historical houses go, it’s not that old. If you go, you need to arrange a tour. Here’s the link. This link also has a picture of the kitchen.

The picture here is the only one I found with permission to use. The story behind it is funny. According to the description, this is a group of kids who came to visit on a field trip. They went up to the door, turned the knob and an alarm went off. Yep, this is a lesson in calling ahead. Oregonian, who posted this on Flickr, has other shots of the group’s civil rights tour. Thanks to Oregonian for sharing.