On the Road to Freedom: Understanding Civil Rights Through our National Parks and Heritage Areas

This transformative journey takes you through some of the most significant sites in the American Civil Rights Movement. See how NPCA is protecting the rich history of this region and get an opportunity to meet with some of the faithful foot soldiers and hear their stories of survival, bravery and their fight for justice.

Download Detailed Trip Brochure (1 MB pdf)

Departure Date:

September 9-16, 2022 REGISTRATION CLOSED

8 days/7 nights

Minimum/Maximum: 10 guests/16 guests


Why Travel with NPCA?

Our goal is to offer premium educational travel itineraries in the places we know best: America’s national parks.

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Schedule Highlights

  • Journey through a decade of civil rights history in the deep south with access to insider experiences, experts and speakers
  • Listen to remarkable stories from 1960’s civil rights activists
  • Learn about NPCA’s collaborative victories and work expanding imperative cultural resource protections
  • Explore national park sites and heritage areas commemorating this important chapter in US history
  • Meet with foot soldiers and listen to their extraordinary stories of survival, bravery and their fight for justice
  • Embark on a journey through the Mississippi Delta and find out first-hand why NPCA is prioritizing necessary protections for the region’s abundance of civil rights history
  • Experience an exclusive talk and tour at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice as you witness and reflect on the complex stories of America’s civil rights era



Day 1: September 9 - Arrivals to Birmingham: Arrive to Birmingham, Alabama and make your way to the Elyton Hotel, which was built in 1906 during Birmingham’s golden era when it was one of the country’s great industrial and manufacturing centers. We will have a welcome reception, dinner and special speaking program to kick off the trip at the hotel. Elyton Hotel (D)

Day 2: September 10 - Birmingham to Montgomery: Visit Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, a national park site that NPCA helped establish in 2017. An NPCA expert will guide you through NPCA’s journey to preserve the monumental histories of the people and places during this chapter of the civil rights movement. We will explore the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, an interactive museum that tells the story of the civil rights movement and features the actual jail cell door behind which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. penned his famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” The group will then meet with Rev. Carolyn McKinstry at the 16th Street Baptist Church. At age 14, Carolyn was inside the 16th Street Baptist Church when a bomb killed four young girls as they prepared to sing in their choir on September 15, 1963. Pass by the historic Kelly Ingram Park, site of civil rights rallies, demonstrations, and confrontations in the 1960s, on the way to the A.G. Gaston Motel, which stood at the center of several significant chapters of the civil rights movement. The motel and institute will become the new Freedom Center, an educational hub that will focus on the civil rights and other cultural topics. The group will then head to Montgomery, Alabama.
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 3: September 11 - Montgomery: This day is dedicated to exploring important educational sites in Montgomery, Alabama. You’ll also get the chance to learn about NPCA’s current efforts to establish the Alabama Black Belt National Heritage Area. This key heritage area will help connect people to the unforgettable stories of individuals in the Alabama Black Belt who risked and lost their lives during the civil rights era. After breakfast, the group will depart for the Dexter Parsonage Museum, the home of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which was bombed on January 30, 1956, before continuing on to the newly opened Legacy Museum. Created by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), the museum aims to tell the history of racial inequality and economic injustice in the United States. For more than a decade, EJI has been conducting extensive research into the history of racial injustice and the narratives that have sustained injustice across generations. After lunch, we will spend some time reflecting at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, conceived with the hope of creating a sober, meaningful site where people can gather and reflect on America’s history of racial inequality and the ongoing history of lynching in America. EJI staff members will provide a special briefing for the group and then we will explore the city at leisure in the evening. This evening, dinner is on your own.
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel (B, L)

Day 4: September 12 - Montgomery to Jackson: Depart for Selma, Alabama, and stop at the Lowndes Interpretive Center to see exhibits highlighting the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. Head to the Selma Interpretive Center, run by the National Park Service, and meet with foot soldier Joanne Bland who, at 11 years old in 1965, was the youngest person to have been jailed during any U.S. civil rights demonstration during that period. Walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge where, beginning on March 21, 1965, marchers walked for five days to Montgomery, camping during the night in the fields of farmers sympathetic to their cause. Stop outside the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, site of Malcolm X’s address in support of voting rights and Dr. King’s eulogy for Jimmie Lee Jackson. After lunch, head to Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument. Medgar Evers, the field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi, was assassinated in his driveway in 1963. Take a moment on this day to hear about the ongoing endeavors from NPCA and partners to protect irreplaceable natural and cultural resources in the Alabama corridor. The Westin Jackson Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 5: September 13 - Jackson: Start the day at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which features a series of galleries on the history of the civil rights movement, featuring the stories of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers and many others. From there, drive to the COFO Civil Rights Education Center to meet with a historian whose expertise is on the modern civil rights movement and the African American experience. We’ll have the opportunity to meet with Hezekiah Watkins, the state’s youngest Freedom Rider, who was arrested at age 13 and will share his extraordinary story with the group. We’ll stop at Farish Street, the thriving center of African American life in Jackson during the Jim Crow era. Stop to sample a “pig ear” or smoked sausage sandwich before heading to Vicksburg National Military Park, an NPCA success story and where the Confederacy surrendered to Union forces in a significant battle in 1863. In 2014, after years of campaigning, NPCA found victory in their fight to advance Vicksburg National Military Park and include 10,000 acres of critical historic battlefield land. This evening, enjoy a private blues performance with local musician Bluesman McKinney. The Westin Jackson Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 6: September 14 - Jackson to Clarksdale: Depart Jackson this morning and head north through the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta. Stop first in Cleveland and meet with Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning and executive director of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area. Continue through multiple small towns along the Mississippi Freedom Trail and have a private catered lunch at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta. That afternoon, we will head to the Emmett Till Interpretive Center and Sumner Court House, which tell the story of the brutal murder of Emmett Till and point a way toward racial healing. Specifically, the center uses arts and storytelling to help process past pain. Experience a private program highlighting how NPCA is working with partners such as the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and the Emmett Till Interpretive Center to commemorate the life and legacy of Emmett Till and the larger civil rights stories throughout the Mississippi Delta. Afterwards, the group will settle in Clarksdale for an uplifting evening of dinner and music.
Travelers Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 7: September 15 - Clarksdale to Memphis: Drive to Memphis, Tennessee, and head to the Lorraine Motel, now the home of the National Civil Rights Museum and site of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. We will get to explore this interactive museum that guides us through five centuries of history, from slavery to the numerous protests of the American civil rights movement. Enjoy lunch at Four Ways Restaurant, located in Soulsville, before heading to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, which provides insight into the civil rights story within the Memphis music scene. Here, we will meet with Jeff Kollath, the executive director of the museum. Check in to the Hu Hotel, a boutique hotel located in downtown Memphis within walking distance of Beale Street. The group will meet for a final debrief and thoughtful reflection of the trip experience before enjoying a farewell dinner. Hu Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 8: September 16 - Memphis Departures: Say a bittersweet farewell to the group and depart from Memphis after breakfast.

Please note: This itinerary is subject to change based on weather conditions and park closures related to COVID-19.

NPCA TRAVEL ELIGIBILITY: NPCA is the only independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advocacy on behalf of the National Park System. We are 100% privately funded and we rely on donations from individuals like you. One traveler per group must be an active NPCA member to participate in an NPCA trip. An annual membership starts at $15 per person. Please make dues payable to NPCA by check or credit card at npca.org.

TRAVEL SAFE WITH NPCA Your safety is our top priority. NPCA has worked diligently with each of our travel partners to develop important safety measures for all our trips. As guidelines and protocols evolve, we are committed to creating flexible options for those interested in rescheduling or booking new travel. For more information, check out our COVID-19 Travel Update.

MORE INFORMATION For full details on this trip, including inclusions, exclusions, accommodations, terms and safety protocols, please download the detailed trip brochure.

Download Detailed Trip Brochure (1 MB pdf)

MAKING RESERVATIONS To secure your space on this NPCA trip, please contact Jared Dial, NPCA’s Associate Director of the Educational Travel Program, at 1.800.628.7275 or email the Travel Program at travel@npca.org.

TRAVEL PROTECTION We strongly recommend purchasing important optional travel insurance that will cover you for a variety of travel-related contingencies, such as trip cancellation, interruption, and/or delay; baggage loss, theft, damage or delay; accident and/or sickness medical expenses; accidental death; as well as evacuation/repatriation coverage. Please note that a Pre-Existing Condition waiver is available if you purchase the policy within 21 days of making your initial trip payment. Also consider the optional “Cancel for any Reason” protection. All questions regarding the plan’s coverage should be directed to Travel Insurance Select through USI Affinity at 1-800-937-1387 or by visiting their website.

Check out NPCA’s full tour lineup at www.npca.org/trips

calendary icon Date October 5, 2022
  • Cost:
    $4,650 per person double occupancy; $980 single supplement
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