MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – More Memphis landmarks are joining the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
The Beale Street Entertainment District and the Union Avenue location of WDIA Radio are the newest additions to the trail. They join Clayborn Temple, the Mason Temple COGIC, and the National Civil Rights Museum.
Beale Street was founded in 1841 and became the center of black commerce and entertainment.
WDIA is the nation’s first radio station with black radio deejays and format for black listeners.
“We at the Department of Tourism want to make sure that people who are seeking information about traveling to Memphis know about these spots, know that there’s rich African American history, and the world was changed here and in many places across Tennessee,” said Nekasha Pratt, Director of Marketing Department for Memphis Tourism Development. “And so, this means so much because it helps us tell those stories to travelers who are looking for that information.”
The Memphis sites are part of a trail that spans 14 states and Washington, D.C.
(NEWS RELEASE) – WDIA Radio and the Beale Street Historic District are now stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail as announced today by Gov. Bill Lee; Commissioner Mark Ezell, Tennessee Dept. of Tourist Development and Secretary/Treasurer of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance; Memphis Mayor Strickland; Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris; and President and CEO of Memphis Tourism Kevin Kane. The announcement was made during a press event hosted by Memphis Tourism at the original B.B. Kings on Beale Street.
“Today is a special day as Tennessee shines a brighter light on the brave men and women who stood up for equal rights,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “I am proud that with the addition of these two sites, travelers from around the world will have the opportunity to learn more about Memphis’ deep civil rights history.”
This acceptance is in large part due to Memphis Tourism’s efforts alongside Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s continued leadership and their sustaining membership of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance.
WDIA Radio was the first radio station in the country programmed entirely for African Americans. Efforts to break down racial boundaries pushed WDIA Radio to the top of the charts, both on the air and in the Memphis community.
The Beale Street Historic District is a National Historic Landmark. The 15-block area was a hotbed for several African American businesses, a Freedman’s Bank, the headquarters of Ida B. Wells’ anti-segregationist newspaper, “Free Speech,” and churches after the Civil War. African Americans came to work, entertain and be entertained, shop and strategize during the Civil Rights Movement.
“The addition of Beale Street and WDIA to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail will help spread the word of the historical significance of this community to our country’s long journey to equality and human rights,” said Mayor Lee Harris, Shelby County Mayor. “Both these sites will be invaluable additions to the trail and these additions will lead to countless conversations and learning opportunities for visitors and our residents.”
WDIA Radio and the Beale Street Historic District join original stops in Memphis which include Clayborn Temple, Mason Temple Church of God in Christ and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks in the Southern states and beyond that played a pivotal role in advancing social justice in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, shifting the course of history.
With the newly-added stops, Tennessee now has 12 stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail including Fisk University and Woolworth’s on 5th in Nashville and Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton. Visitors from around the world travel to Tennessee to explore where history was made.
For more information on Tennessee’s trail sites, visit www.tncivilrightstrail.com.
To learn about other states’ sites on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, visit www.civilrightstrail.com.