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“Civil Rights Museum Tour”

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Ranked #2 of 88 things to do in Birmingham
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This historic museum traces the journey of the civil rights advocates of the 1950s and 60s, who changed the course of American history. The struggle for equality for Black Americans is chronicled here, from the Jim Crow laws in the 1800s to the freedom rides, sit-ins and demonstrations of the 1960s.
Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
15 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Civil Rights Museum Tour”
Reviewed June 19, 2014

This was the last stop on My Civil Rights Museum tour the weekend I spent in Alabama, having made 2 museum stops in Montgomery, AL. This museum was just OUTSTANDING. I do a lot of museums when I travel and the curator and architects of this institute did an AWESOME job with the design layout, the display of the history of Birmingham & the Civil Rights movement. Even if you think you know a lot, you will learn more on this tour. I encourage anyone & everyone to visit this museum and take young people with you so they too can learn and hopefully appreciate this country's history. It is the history of the country NOT just Alabama. Great museum that is well done!

Visited June 2014
1 Thank Crystal H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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809 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
225 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
“worth a stop”
Reviewed June 16, 2014

This is most definitely worth a short detour from I65. Plan on two hours. I was here with two teenagers. The exhibits were on the right level for them -- mostly focused on photos, video and audio recordings of key civil rights events from the 50s to 70s, plus a few actual artifacts. The first you see as you enter is one of the best -- a "white" and a "colored" water fountain side by side. There are also some very sad and moving artifacts from the '63 bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church which, by the way, is right next door and worth a visit to see the memorial stone placed in memory of the four girls who lost their lives. And I appreciated the emphasis on the risks that activists took -- the violence perpetrated on the Freedom Riders was awful. However... this is the civil rights movement from the mainstream perspective. You're not getting the full story here. As even my daughter observed, no mention is made of the more militant participants in the CR movement such as Malcolm X (she read his autobiography in high school). Also, I found the exhibits to be pretty basic in content. If you come in with more than average knowledge of this era, you won't learn much that is new. But this is a place to bring your children so that they can learn. Finally, I was so happy to see displayed one of my favorite pieces of writing -- King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail -- but shocked to see an EDITED version on display that has removed key parts of MLK's message, such as his observation that "we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny." Strange to see the best lines omitted.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank gazooby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ontario's Near North, Canada
Level Contributor
235 reviews
48 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 152 helpful votes
“Remembering a Shameful Past”
Reviewed June 15, 2014

It is hard to believe that much of what is covered at this excellent facility happened in living memory for so many people. The institute serves as both an historical time capsule and history lesson. As a Canadian I well remember, through news coverage, the terrible racial strife in the south-- specifically Alabama, back in the '60s.

The Institute is well laid out and starts with a brief video that does an excellent job of providing historical context. Other videos later in the tour are worth watching as well. A few suggestions:

- visit the park across the street and the church first to help set the mood and context
- give yourself a minimum of 90 minutes on site
- use the one bathroom facility inside the institute first
- remember your AAA card and your children's student cards for entry discounts
- no photography is allowed inside
- as important as this site is for all, note that younger children (under 10) probably won't be patient spending a lot of time here given the level of the material.

We travelled a long distance to see this excellent facility. Most definitely worth the effort.

Visited June 2014
2 Thank LikethetripFantastic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
162 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“A must see!”
Reviewed June 9, 2014

A walk thru Civil Rights History, what a reminder of the our history! I loved the set up, reviewing the movie, curtains open then walking thru a time machine! We will be back this Summer with our Grandkids to take this tour!

Visited June 2014
Thank Csaulter57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Immersive Exhibits - Highly Recommend!”
Reviewed June 8, 2014 via mobile

A must visit! This is truly a 'living institution' that immerses you in the not so distant past. They've laid out the space impressively to walk you through history and really experience the struggle for civil rights. It was hard hitting to see a burnt cross on display from the 90's. This would be an excellent educational trip for older children (and adults alike). Make sure you use the restroom and change any diapers before entering the theater room, otherwise you'll need to walk through the entire exhibit and backtrack.

Visited June 2014
1 Thank Frances S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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