Celebrate Black History in Memphis

National Civil Rights Museum. Photo Credit: BrandUSA

This February, explore black history in-depth as you experience the struggles and triumphs, the music and movements, and the larger-than-life legends and unsung heroes at important historical sites, poignant museums, soulful recording studios and inspiring special events.­­

 Attractions, Museums & Historic Sites

Perhaps the very first stop you should make during your black history pilgrimage is the National Civil Rights Museum. Located at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony on April 4, 1968, this important museum is filled with Civil Rights history, and its comprehensive exhibits showcase 260 artifacts and interactive media to cover five centuries, from slavery in America and the Civil War to the 20th-century Civil Rights movement and modern-day issues. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore the exhibits—visitors are often surprised by how much time they take to experience the displays (and how truly moving they are).
 
Learn more about slavery in America when you visit Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum housed inside the historic Burkle Estate, one of the Underground Railroad stops offering refuge for runaway slaves on their way to freedom. Or, stand at the epicenter of the South’s cotton economy—which relied on the hard labor of slaves—when you visit The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange.
 
Peek into the more recent past at the Ernest Withers Collection, a gallery featuring an expansive collection of photographs depicting life throughout the 20th century: musical legends, sports stars, pivotal events during the Civil Rights movement and daily life in Memphis.
 
B.B. King, W. C. Handy, Isaac Hayes, Hank Crawford—you can’t fully experience black history in Memphis without celebrating the musical greats and the chart-topping hits that changed the course of music forever. Celebrate black musicians across a range of genres, and take your pick from must-visit museums and attractions: Blues Hall of FameStax Museum of American Soul MusicSun StudioMemphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and W.C. Handy Home and Museum.
 
Discover even more ideas for your black history vacation.

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum. Photo Credit: Baxter Buck
Withers Collection Museum & Gallery. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks
Cotton Museum - Andrea Zucker
National Civil Rights Museum: Memphis CVB. Withers Museum: Justin Fox Burks. Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum: Baxter Buck. Cotton Museum: Andrea Zucker
Black History Month Events

January 20 – February 12, 2017
Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin (Play)
Hattiloo Theatre

February 4, 2017
Exhibit Opening: Banjos ~ Africa and the New World (by Bob & Leilani Thornburg)
African and Slave Plantation Banjos
Musical Performance: “Spirit of African Music” Ekpe Abioto
Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum (Burkle Estate)

February 16, 2017
Book & Author Series: Chained in Silence
National Civil Rights Museum

February 24, 2017
Jazz in the Box Presents Joyce Cobb, vocals in Memphis
Germantown Performing Arts Center

February 25, 2017
Artists Market & Music
African Carvings, Arts, Crafts, Jewelry, Drumming, Singing, Poetry 
Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum (Burkle Estate)

Guided Tour

Ready to let someone else do your trip planning? Enjoy the ride when you book a guided tour with A Tour of Possibilities, which specializes in African-American history. You’ll see plenty of historical and cultural gems throughout Memphis, such as historic Beale Street, National Civil Rights Museum, LeMoyne-Owen College and many more fascinating stops. Another tour option specializing in African-American history is Heritage Tours. Call 901-527-3427 to book.