An American Civil Rights Tour - Atlas Obscura Lists

An American Civil Rights Tour

In the footsteps of freedom.

The legacy of the civil rights movement—and the ongoing struggle it still represents—touches every corner of the United States, and not just the monuments that represent freedom or lunch counters that were occupied for equality. We explored this legacy in a previous list, but have added many more places around the country to explore it, places that provide more intimate and personal forays—easy to overlook and hard to forget—into the lives of the leaders who carved a path for future Black Americans. 

In Tallahassee, Florida, 16 terrazzo panels line half a block of sidewalk. This intricate blend of concrete, marble, granite, and quartz honors 50 people who fought for civil rights in the region. One honoree, Rev. Dr. Charles Kenzie, led the 1956 Tallahassee bus boycott. Though born in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little—soon to become Malcolm X—came of age in a small house in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. After his family moved around the country to escape racial violence, he eventually moved in with his half-sister, Ella Little-Collins, in Boston. He cited Little-Collins as a key figure in shaping his character and worldview, and their house still stands. From the home of the woman who integrated restaurants in Washington, D.C., to a set of steps where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested, to sites associated with horrific crimes that galvanized the movement, here is a guide to the on-the-ground history of the pursuit of freedom and equality.