The U.S. Civil Rights Trail has more than 100 locations across 14 states that changed the world with its happenings. As one of the locations, history was also made here in Baton Rouge. Of many historical events that happened in the Red Stick, memorable events regarding the Civil Rights Movement include the nation’s first bus boycott led by T.J. Jemison in 1953 and the 106-Mile March to the Capitol to raise awareness of the acts of violence against African-Americans in 1967. Baton Rouge is a hot spot for celebrating different cultures and history. Here are a few places to visit on this trail of civil rights history.
1. Louisiana State Capitol
Start by walking up stairs of the Capitol where the march to raise awareness for racial injustice in the state took place. Then, in the lobby, take a look at the statue of Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback, the nation’s first African-American governor and a Louisiana State Senator. After that, take an elevator up to the 27th floor observation deck to have a look over the whole city from the tallest capitol building in the country.
2. Southern University
Built in Baton Rouge in 1914, Southern University is the largest historically black college in the world. In early 1960, Southern students sparked a revolution in South Louisiana by organizing sit-ins at local spots to protest segregated spaces. Shortly after, students were being threatened of expulsion from the school if they participated in protests, sit-ins or rallies of any kind. Two thousand students gathered to rally in honor of the arrested demonstrators in March 1960 and half of the student body threatened to leave the school. This historic event set a tone of pride and determination still seen today at Southern University. To tour the campus, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Odell S. Williams African-American Museum
Named after Baton Rouge educator, Odell S. Williams, this vibrant museum pays tribute to the “then and now” of African-American culture and history of Baton Rouge. You can see the actual bus from the 1953 Baton Rouge Bus Boycott mentioned above. Founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph has run the non-profit museum for 13 years and believes museums like these are essential in the community to celebrate “a culture that holds people together.”
4. River Road African-American Museum
A small museum in Donaldsonville packed with history, this museum has been known to depict the most accurate images of African American and Creole life throughout Southern Louisiana’s history. From the root of jazz music to iconic black inventions, this spot celebrates the accomplishments of the local black community and is a must-see location. To learn more about what this museum has to offer, visit https://africanamericanmuseum.org/.
5. West Baton Rouge Museum
Located just outside of the Capital in Port Allen, Louisiana sits the West Baton Rouge Museum. The museum tells the story of plantation life in rural Louisiana with on-site tours of French Creole homes like the Aillet House and Antebellum-era slave cabins. There are also artifacts from the rural area that are over 300 years old.
With Baton Rouge being a central location for culture and history and Louisiana, there is so much more to explore in the Capital City. To learn more about the Civil Rights movement in Baton Rouge visit civilrightstrail.com/destination/baton-rouge/ or use visitbatonrouge.com to plan your stay in the Red Stick.