National Historic Sites to Visit by RV—Birmingham Civil Rights and Freedom Riders Monuments

In a previous post, we mentioned that four new National Historic Sites had been recognized by the National Park Service this year. That earlier post offered RV campers the details for visiting Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Maryland. This week, we’ve got the details on two new historic sites that tell the story of the American Civil Rights Movement. An important lesson in history and excellent RV camping nearby—isn’t it time you took the trip?

Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument

Both RV travel stops in today’s post are in Alabama, at the heart of the American Civil Rights movement. Challenge your fellow campers to read ahead of time about the role Birmingham, Alabama played in the early days of the struggle for racial equality in America.

The new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument isn’t yet fully developed, but there’s plenty to explore when you visit. These sites are currently designated within the Monument:

  • G. Gaston Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other early leaders in the Civil Rights Movement met to plan non-violent protests and other actions to end segregation.
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is located adjacent to the AG Gaston Motel. This museum and interpretive center can give you the background you’ll need to begin your tour to the other sites that make up the national monument.
  • 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of the horrific bombing in 1963 that killed four young girls and lit the spark for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Bethel Baptist Church, a short drive from the other sites, was bombed three times during the early years of the struggle for racial equality and served as the home of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights.
  • Kelly Ingram Park, captured in history by photographers at the non-violent protests that were disrupted by violent police action.
  • 4th Avenue District, an historic neighborhood once the site of blacks-only restaurants and shops during the days of segregation. 

Freedom Riders National Monument

Two hours east of Birmingham on I-20 in Anniston, Alabama you’ll find another newly-designated National Historic Site. The Freedom Riders National Monument is dedicated to the integrated group who boarded a bus bound for the Deep South in 1961, intent on testing a court decision that had found segregated transportation unconstitutional.

In Anniston, AL, you’ll find the Greyhound Bus Station where the group was attacked by segregationists, as well as the site six miles down the highway where the bus was stopped and firebombed by a mob.

While visiting these two designated sites within the National Monument, take the time to follow the Anniston Civil Rights Trail, a walking tour that highlights the importance of this small Eastern Alabama town during the Civil Rights Movement.

Birmingham Area RV Camping

Where to camp in this historically rich area? Oak Mountain State Park, just south of Birmingham off I-65, offers Alabama RV travelers a wonderful place to recharge. With both 30-amp water and electric sites and primitive campsites, you can choose your setting while enjoying the numerous amenities this park features. Two recreational lakes with cable skiing and boat rentals, a golf course and miles of hiking and biking trails are just the beginning of the ways you’ll find to unwind while camping in the Birmingham area. If you’re up for a climb, the state park’s Peavine Falls is a photographer’s dream.

Make an RV trip to Alabama to find the roots of the American Civil Rights Movement, and to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Birmingham area campgrounds. We can help with an RV rental, and we hope our posts inspire you to seek out the places that tell the story of our nation’s past.

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