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'A Traveler's Guide to the
Civil Rights Movement'    
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[JUNE 9, 2004]  "A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement." Jim Carrier, A Harvest Original/Harcourt, Inc., 2004, 384 pages.

"Ain't going to let nobody turn me around."

-- from a song of the civil rights era

Review by
Richard Sumrall

In a wonderful new addition to the body of American travel guides, award-winning author Jim Carrier has compiled "A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement," a state-by-state listing of the museums, monuments and historic landmarks that recognize the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

According to U.S. congressman and civil rights veteran John Lewis, the book "takes readers on a journey to the memorials, museums, battlegrounds, and sacred places that tell the amazing story of America's continuous struggle for freedom and justice, a struggle that reached its zenith during the nonviolent revolution for civil rights."

The book identifies sites in Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and other states. Although the sites related to the seminal moments of the civil rights movement are included, such as Selma and Edmund Pettis Bridge in Alabama and the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., the book's importance lies in revealing the places and events of the civil rights movement that were of great importance yet less well-known to the general public. Here's a sample:

Washington, D.C.

The Carter Woodson House is located at 1538 Ninth St., NW. Dr Woodson is described as "the man most responsible for changing American opinion about the intelligence and potential of blacks." It is at this site that he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Scholarly work here included disproving the myth of genetic inferiority and the notion of the "happy slave."


The site of the Franklin and Armfield Slave Trading Firm is located in Alexandria. Despite the federal government's ban on the importing of African slaves in 1808, this firm maintained a lucrative business in the slave trade. At the height of their business they sold thousands of slaves annually and dominated the sea trade between New Orleans and Virginia. The house is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

North Carolina

At the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Historic Site in Sedalia, N.C., an 18-year-old black scholar named Charlotte Brown founded the Palmer Institute in 1901. It was the state's first prep school for blacks. Students were exposed to educational opportunities that combined academics with the practice of proper etiquette and social graces of the day.


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In Plateau, a small Alabama community adjacent to Mobile, stands the Cudjoe Lewis Memorial Statue. Captured in Africa, Lewis was on the ship Clotilde, documented as one of the very last ships to illegally bring slaves into the United States. Arriving in Mobile Bay in 1859, some of the slaves ended up in present-day Plateau, otherwise known as "Africa Town." Lewis was the last surviving member of the Clotilde and lived in Plateau until his death in 1935. An underwater archaeological search for the slave ship continues today.


The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale is one of the premier museums devoted to America's musical roots. In addition to an interpretive display of the Delta cotton culture that influenced this genre, the museum also contains the small log cabin once occupied by the legendary bluesman Muddy Waters.

The Dunleith Mansion in Natchez has a dual role in civil rights history. It serves as an example of the Southern antebellum plantations that signified white wealth during the era of King Cotton. Another side of its history involves a Dunleith mansion slave boy named John Lynch. Lynch gained his freedom, took night school classes from the Freedman's Bureau and eventually become Mississippi's first black congressman and head of the first black bank in the United States.

"A Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement" is a fascinating read on the history, people and places of the American civil rights movement. Used in conjunction with any reliable road atlas, the book identifies many of the most important (and least-known) sites associated with this turbulent time in our nation's history. Travelers will find the book's geographic format handy and easy to use for planning trips and vacations.

In the introduction, congressman Lewis writes: "A story is told in the hopes that something will be done to memorialize it. This book was written, in large part, to preserve the history of civil rights for new generations that may take them for granted." This book is recommended to everyone who enjoys history, travel or is seeking a better understanding of the struggle for equality in the United States.

[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]

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