I Am A Man Mural

Celebrate Black History Month in Memphis

National Civil Rights Museum / Craig Thompson

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.

Sitins - National Civil Rights Museum
Withers Collection Museum & Gallery. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks
Four Way Soul Food / Alex Shansky

Support Black-Owned Businesses 

As seen on Travel Channel, the Today Show and Good Morning America, stop by Alcenia's and get a big hug by Chef BJ. Once you taste her food, you know it was made with pure love. Or head to Soulsville for a meat and three and a live band on Thursday afternoons at the historic Four Way Grill, where Dr. King would frequent on his trips to Memphis and the Stax artists would grab lunch between long recording sessions. Get your Memphis barbecue fix at The Bar-b-que Shop on Madison in Midtown or Interstate Barbecue off of I-55. For more restaurants check out Memphis Black Restaurant Week which takes place March 3-9.

Discover the Orange Mound neighborhood, designated as a Preserve America Community by First Lady Michelle Obama. On your visit, catch a concert or art exhibition at The CMPLX, the headquarters for black arts collective The CLTV, a group that supports African American artists, musicians, and creatives in Memphis. Then head next door to the Orange Mound Gallery for exhibits curated and created by local artists, including the Africa in April art exhibition that precedes the annual festival downtown. Learn how My Cup of Tea is helping the women of Orange Mound, located at The House In Orange Mound, serves up locally created tea flavors like "Orange Mound Porch Peach", "Riverboat Queen Green Tea", and others. Call ahead for hours and availability. You can also find My Cup Of Tea products served and sold at other cafes and shops around town, too. 

Guided Tours

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.