Memphis’ Beale Street Historic District and WDIA Radio Station Added to U.S. Civil Rights Trail
Beale Street Historic District joins together the Historic Daisy Theater/Randle Catron Interpretive Center, the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery, Historic First Baptist Beale Street Church and Robert R. Church Park.
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 civilrightstrail.com.
About the U.S. Civil Rights Trail
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks primarily in the Southern states where activists challenged segregation in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s to advance social justice. Famous sites such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas; the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth’s where sit-ins began; the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; and Dr. King’s birthplace in Atlanta, to name a few. The people, locations and destinations included in the Civil Rights Trail provide a way for families, travelers, and educators to experience history firsthand and tell the story of how “what happened here changed the world.” For details about dozens of significant sites and to see interviews with civil rights foot soldiers, visit civilrightstrail.com.
Memphis is a world-class sports destination that is complemented by the legendary food and music the city is known for around the world. The city is headlined by live music and full of one-of-a-kind experiences that include Beale Street, National Civil Rights Museum, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Sun Studio, Elvis Presley’s Graceland and Memphis Zoo, home to two giant pandas. Stunning Mississippi River views, mouthwatering barbecue, lively festivals, and intriguing galleries and museums round out the many attractions and activities for visitors to experience in Memphis. These only begin the list of what’s so great about the Home of the Blues, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll. For more information, visit www.memphistravel.com
About the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Tennessee is the home of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll-delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history and family adventure, infused with music that creates a vacation that is “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” In 2018, Tennessee’s tourism industry generated $22.02 billion in economic impact, more than $1.81 billion in state and local tax revenue and more than 187,757 tourism-related jobs. Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “tnvacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube or “Tennessee” on Snapchat.