You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

As interest in civil rights tourism grows, Atlanta is a key spot

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes grew up in Atlanta and attended Chamblee High School and Georgia State University.

Despite those deep ties, Barnes delighted in discovering even more about her hometown when she went on a Civil Rights Tour a year or so ago.

There are a lot of things we don’t experience,” said Barnes, who went on the tour with her husband, Tom Banks, who lives in New York. “We say, ‘Oh, I can save that for when someone comes in from out of town.’ We don’t take advantage of the rich resources we have in Atlanta.”

The tour took her along historic Auburn Avenue, to South View Cemetery and to the home of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., where he and wife, Coretta, raised their family.

“It touched me so much,” said Barnes, 61. “Here I was walking where Dr. King walked, where they (the King family) were probably frightened but also where so many great things happened.”

Atlanta’s role in black history and the civil rights movement has long been a part of the tourism industry. Atlanta is also a short drive to Birmingham, Ala., and Savannah, which both have civil rights legacies.

Thousands of Atlantans have journeyed to Washington, D.C., to visit the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Many, though, may not know that there are so many jewels in their midst back home. Atlanta has long been an important stop for people interested in learning about the movement. It is the home of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Atlanta Life Insurance Co., Ebenezer Baptist Church, Big Bethel AME Church and the Atlanta University Center. Civil rights leaders such as U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Hosea Williams, Ralph D. Abernathy, Joseph Lowery, James Orange and C.T. Vivian also called it home.

“Visitors from around the world come to Atlanta annually to explore the history of the American civil rights movement,” William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. “Our city is fortunate to have several attractions and cultural institutions dedicated to telling this important story.”

Tom Houck, a former driver for King and a SCLC organizer, started Civil Rights Tours. The hourslong tour starts and ends on Auburn Avenue at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and near the crypts of the Kings. Today, Houck says it goes by nearly two dozen spots.

“So much of that civil rights history has evolved from here,” he said. He estimates more than 8,000 people have taken the tour. Riders have included family reunions, civic associations, business groups, foundation members and elected officials.

In 2014, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened its doors in Atlanta near the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. The center had more than 194,000 visitors last year, and officials expect that number to increase slightly this year.

“Few cities can boast of such a civil rights history,” said CEO Derreck Kayongo. “Atlanta is the city of rights, in my view. … No other city has so many historic members of the civil rights movement. When you come to Atlanta, you can see that diversity and inclusion. … In my view, we are the nexus.”


Landmark neglect on civil rights tour

John Lewis reads powerful speech at museum opening

Morehouse College another link to new Smithsonian museum

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Living

Your cat really does like you, in fact more than food, study says
Your cat really does like you, in fact more than food, study says

Cats have gotten a bad rap, at least according to a new study that found your feline really does like you, even if it doesn’t always know how to show you, and it actually likes interacting with you more than it prefers food. The study from Oregon State University researchers in the journal “Behavioral Processes” also determined that...
TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’ is headed back to television
TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’ is headed back to television

TLC is bringing back its popular show “Trading Spaces” 10 years after it went off the air. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network announced it will bring the show back in an upfront presentation to advertisers on Tuesday. “I am excited to announce that TLC's most successful and most iconic series ... ‘Trading Spaces&rsquo...
Ann Wilson solo tour will swing through Atlanta this summer

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene Heart belter Ann Wilson has added an Atlanta show to the second leg of her solo tour. The powerhouse voice behind such gems as “Crazy on You” and “Alone” will play the Buckhead Theatre at 7:30 p.m. June 6. Tickets, priced at $55 and $75, will go on sale at 10 a.m. March 31 via the venue box...
The ‘Magic Negro’ and comedian Mark Kendall’s quest to kill him
The ‘Magic Negro’ and comedian Mark Kendall’s quest to kill him

The idea of the “Magic Negro” or the “Magical Negro” has been among the most enduring and offensive tropes in cinema for decades. You know, the black character who comes in to provide sage advice or life-affirming support to a white protagonist in danger or need. Think Whoopi Goldberg’s character in “Ghost,&rdquo...
Georgia World War One Centennial Commission commemorates the Great War
Georgia World War One Centennial Commission commemorates the Great War

The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission was established in 2013 by Congress, and Georgia’s branch was established in 2015 by the Georgia General Assembly. On the website for Georgia’s commission, you’ll find a link that says “Monuments, Memorials and Historic Sites,” which lists memorials surveyed by the...
More Stories