It’s easy to visit most historic sites on your own, but there are reasons to take a guided civil rights tour of the South. On a practical level, it lets someone else worry about the driving and choose the restaurants, and more importantly, the trips are often guided by extraordinary experts to help put the history and sites into perspective.
It’s quite easy to customize an educational civil rights tour of the South for a family, class, community organization or church. Generally you’ll need a minimum of 15 to book a custom tour. Throughout the year, many groups and colleges and alumni associations also offer trips to significant sites, usually on multi-day bus tours. Most are open to everyone.
Book a specialty civil rights tour of the South
The following group tours are open to everyone:
- Trafalgar Tours offers a new comprehensive nine-day Journey Along the Civil Rights Trail tour taking travelers from Memphis to Atlanta. It covers most the important spots we recommend on a Deep South tour, including Emmet Till sites on the Mississippi Civil Rights Trail. Tours start at $2,699.
- Road Scholar offers an eight-day Heart of the Civil Rights Movement tour visiting Atlanta, Montgomery and Birmingham, starting at $2,449.
- Grand Circle Travel offers an extensive 11-day “Let Freedom Ring!” tour from Jackson, Mississippi to Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, before ending in Mobile, Alabama. Tour dates are available through 2022. Prices start at $3,295. For first-time travelers, earn a $100 discount by mentioning name Lawrence B and Customer Number 2966437
- Odysseys Unlimited, a small-group travel company (no more than 24 travelers), offers a 12 day tour from Atlanta, to Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham, and ending in Memphis, from $3,895, land only.
- The Alabama Civil Rights Tourism Association offers six-day journeys through the state that was at the heart of the movement, with visits to Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma. Trips are scheduled throughout 2022. Guest guides include Wanda Battles, whose family helped transport riders during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Trips start at $2,149.
- The Nation magazine plans to offer an extensive week long trip Feb. 12-19, 2023, through Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. The trip starts at $4,680. Watch an excerpt of a trip below:
- Distant Horizons, a sponsor of alumni association tours, has a variety of trips in spring and fall 2022, visiting Jackson, Little Rock, Memphis and Montgomery.
- Likewise, Columbus, Ohio-based Heritage Tours is offering a six-day bus tour from April 10-25, 2022, visiting Louisville, Kentucky; Tennessee; Alabama and Atlanta.
- San Francisco’s famed Commonwealth Club offers a nine-day trip from Jackson to Montgomery March 19-27, 2023, starting at $4,995.
- Minnesota’s St. Olaf College is offering a detailed 10-day tour led by a religion professor and an attorney, from Oct. 3–12, 2023, spending several days in Jackson, starting from $6.450.
- If you don’t mind driving yourself, UK based Trailfinders offers a 12-day Civil Rights & the Soulful South self-drive tour from Atlanta through Alabama to New Orleans. The £1,384 per-person price includes rental car, hotels and museum admissions. Airfare, and car rental drop-off fee not included.
- Another UK based company, Bon Voyage, offers a similar trip for £1995, including flights from Britain.
- NxStep Educational and Activity Tours offers a hybrid tour for college-bound students, visiting eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and several civil rights sites.
- Civil Rights Trail Tours offers several trips in the Deep South, including some with a music focus, and others blending visits to HBCUs with civil rights sites. It’s run by Leo Burnette, who has been leading tours in the region for decades. Group tours start at $1,699 per person.
- Sojourn to the Past, a California-based non-profit, has been giving tours since 1999 and has developed deep connections in the Deep South. The tours hit all the major civil rights sites from Georgia to Arkansas, and adds in some surprises too. While most programs are designed for students, it does offer trips that can include families.
- One of the best is Freedom Lifted, which curates Civil Rights trips that connect the history to contemporary issues. This specializes in customizing experiences for students in grades 8 – 12. They can also help you design your own group tour and offer online learning opportunities.
School trip planners
- Educational Travel Adventures and Explorica by WorldStrides have set tours for school groups, while Hemisphere Educational Travel, Concept Tours, and Brightspark Travel can organize trips for your group.
- Classrooms without Borders offers an eight-day tour leaving from Pittsburgh for adults and educators from June 10-17, 2023. Pricing is $2,250 for adults, and a bargain $500 for educators who receive a scholarship.
- Appleseed Exhibitions offers a four-day Alabama tour.
- UK-based Rayburn Tours will customize tours for British groups.
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