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Civil Rights Tour

The Alabama Civil Rights Museum trail takes visitors to sites in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and Tuskegee to honor and commemorate the incredible struggles of American civil rights heroes, famous and ordinary alike. Begin your journey in Montgomery with a visit to the Rosa Parks Museum, 252 Montgomery St. (tel. 888/357-8843, ext. 661; http://montgomery.troy.edu/museum), and learn more about this fascinating woman's life and struggle for equality, and even ride on a restored 1953 city bus, just like the one that changed the course of Ms. Parks' life, and lives of so many others. From there, head to the Civil Rights Memorial at 400 Washington Ave., which honors all those who died in the struggle between the years 1955 and 1965. One block from there is Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, 303 S. Jackson Ave. (tel. 334/261-3270; www.dexterkingmemorial.org), where Martin Luther King Jr. gave some of his most heartening and important speeches on justice, equality, and peace. A few blocks south is the Dexter Parsonage, 303 S. Jackson St. (tel. 334/261-3270; www.dakmf.org) the small, white cottage where Dr. King and his family first lived when he was a young minister prior to moving to Atlanta.

The next stop is Selma (tel. 800/45-SELMA; www.selmaalabama.com), 1 hour west of Montgomery, and the site of the violent Bloody Sunday attack on civil rights marchers in 1965 on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which crosses the Alabama River on Highway 80 at the entrance to the town. Cross it and you will come to the doorstep of the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute (tel. 334/418-0800; www.nvrmi.org), which showcases photos and letters that capture the struggle of civil rights activists to gain the right to vote. Continue east on I-85 for a visit to Tuskegee University (tel. 334/727-6390; www.nps.gov/tuin), the famed African-American institute of learning founded by Booker T. Washington, and where Dr. George Washington Carver's experiments revolutionized agriculture. While you're there, you can visit Booker T's home as well as the Tuskegee Airmen museum, devoted to the auspicious black pilots who flew during WWII and helped to end segregation in the U.S. military.

End your tour of Civil Rights history about 90 miles north on I-65 for the pinnacle of the tour, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute at 520 16th St. (tel. 205/328-9696; www.bcri.org), which holds Dr. King's famous "Letter from Birmingham," urging other religious leaders to join his peaceful struggle for equality, as well as a host of other pieces of historical evidence of when our country waded through the dark ages of the civil rights struggle. Adjacent to the museum stands the site of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, 1530 Sixth Ave. N. (tel. 205/251-9402), where four little girls died when Ku Klux Klan members bombed the sacred building in response to the long-awaited ruling for the integration of Alabama's schools -- and maybe say a prayer that nothing like that will ever happen again.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.