Selma is a small city of Deep Southern tradition, Antebellum mansions and fancy mixed drinks. To most Americans however, it is an infamous city turned famous by events seminal to the Civil Rights Movement.
At 65 miles away, Selma is a worthwhile day-trip from Montgomery, AL. You can drive the Selma to Montgomery Trail along the way.
National Voting Rights Museum & Institute
Near the foot of Edmund Pettus Bridge, the museum houses exhibits on the people and events that brought about voting rights for all Americans, regardless of race, education, or income. It includes exhibits on “Bloody Sunday,” African-Americans in government and memorials to those who died during the struggle. It hosts the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in March. Take the see the historic civil rights sites of Selma and have lunch with a history-maker. The Bed & Breakfast Tour for $100 per night lets you spend the night in the home of a history-maker, then listen to their stories.
ADMISSION: $5 adults, $3 students; Footprints to Freedom Tour for $12 plus lunch
DAYS & HOURS: Tue–Fri 9a–5p; Sat 10a–4p
ADDRESS: 1012 Water Avenue, Selma, AL MAP
Slavery & Civil War Museum
Opened in 2002, and provides written, oral, and visual displays and of the history of slavery and the Civil War. It includes a traveling 52-piece art collection “Middle Passage” by Tom Feelings.
ADMISSION: $5 adults, $3 seniors and children
DAYS & HOURS: Mon-Fri 11a–5p; Sat 11a–4p
ADDRESS: 1410 Water Avenue, Selma, AL MAP
Founded by the Alabama Colored Baptist Convention in 1866 to train ministers and Christian teachers, it is oldest traditional black junior college in the U.S.
ADDRESS: 1501 Lapsley Street, Selma, AL MAP
Old Depot Museum
DESCRIPTION: Housed in the old L & N Railroad Depot at the foot of historic Water Avenue, the museum depicts life in Selma from 1820 to the present; a tour of the museum runs the gamut from Civil War to Civil Rights
ADMISSION: $4 adults, $1 students
DAYS & HOURS: Mon–Sat 10a–4p
ADDRESS: 4 Martin Luther King Street, Selma, AL MAP
Brown Chapel AME Church & Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Statue
DESCRIPTION: Brown Chapel was organized by freed men in 1866 after the Civil War. The current edifice by a Black architect A.J. Farley, was built in 1908 and is noted for its imposing twin towers and Romanesque Revival exterior. With its proximity to downtown and Edmond Pettus Bridge, this church was the staging ground for the historic Selma to Montgomery Marches of the Civil Rights Movement. Despite a ban on protest marches by Governor George Wallace, the first march led by SCLC’s Hosea Williams and SNCC’s John Lewis took place on 7 March 1965, known as “Bloody Sunday” — 600 civil rights marchers were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas 6 blocks away on Edmond Pettus Bridge. John Lewis’ skull was fractured in the melee as many white onlookers cheered. When national TV programming was interrupted that night to showcase the events, the nation’s disapproving eyes finally gazed upon the Selma and other civil rights marches. The second march took place on 9 March 1965 but was halted at the bridge for fear of death — even though national news cameras were there; on 21 March 1965, after Governor Wallace’s ban was overruled by Federal Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr., only the third march led by Dr. King, Aberbernathy, Hosea Williams, John Lewis, interfaith ministers and a host of celebrities and made it to Montgomery, 51 miles away 5 days later. As the meeting place and offices of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the Selma Movement the church played a major role in leading to the adoption of the Voting Rights Act of August 1965. A monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was dedicated in front of the chapel in 1979.
DAYS & HOURS: tours by appt only.
ADDRESS: 410 Martin Luther King Street, Selma, AL MAP
Tabernacle Baptist Church
DESCRIPTION: Established in 1894, this church was the site of the first mass meeting on voting rights in 1964 hosted by Rev. L. L. Anderson, when others were afraid to do so; prior to 1st mass meeting, this was the site of training for non-violent protests; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin also spoke here
ADDRESS: 1431 Broad Street, Selma, AL MAP
Edmund Pettus Bridge and Civil Rights Memorial Park
DESCRIPTION: Named after Edmund Winston Pettus, a Confederate general and U.S. senator from this city. The bridge is famous during the Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery where marchers were violently attacked by Alabama state troopers at the foot of the bridge on 7 March 1965. That day is known as “Bloody Sunday.” On Sunday 21 March 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led 600 marchers across this bridge, by the time it successfully concluded in Montgomery, the numbers swelled to 25,000, whom Dr. King addressed from the steps of the Alabama State Capitol. The memorial park includes murals, memorials, and walking path to commemorate the struggle for voting and civil rights.
ADDRESS: Broad Street at Water Avenue, Selma, AL MAP
DESCRIPTION: Formed in 1947 as Selma’s first Black branch of the YMCA.
ADDRESS: 1133 Minter Avenue, Selma, AL MAP
Dallas County Courthouse
DESCRIPTION: Destination of most Selma protest marches for voting rights.
ADDRESS: 105 Lauderdale Street, Selma, AL MAP
Old City Hall
DESCRIPTION: Served as a city and county jail in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other protestors were jailed in 1965.
ADDRESS: 1300 Alabama Avenue, Selma, AL MAP
Old Live Oak Cemetery
DESCRIPTION: A National Register Landmark, which holds the graves of former African-American slaves, teachers, businessmen and politicians. It includes the grave of Benjamin S. Turner, the Selma ex-slave who became Alabama’s first black congressman.
ADDRESS: Highway 22 West (West Dallas Ave), Selma, AL MAP
St. James Hotel
DESCRIPTION: From 1825 to 1893, this hotel was run by a slave, Benjamin S. Turner. He took over the hotel for his owner, who had gone to become a doctor in the Civil War. Benjamin Turner eventually became the county’s first African-American tax collector, one of Selma’s first black city councilmen, and the first African-American for represent Alabama in the U.S. Congress. Today, it is Selma’s only full-service hotel and has been restored to its former grandeur. Its walking distance to Selma’s historic sites.
ADDRESS: 1200 Water Avenue, Selma, AL MAP
DESCRIPTION: Lannie’s award-winning BBQ is an institution in Selma; has a second 205 Medical Center Parkway
DAYS & HOURS: Mon–Thu 8a–8p, Fri–Sat 8a–9p
ADDRESS: 2115 Minter Avenue, Selma, AL MAP
Smith Family Restaurant
DESCRIPTION: Buffet restaurant
CUISINE: Soul Food; you’ll love the Daily Soul Food Buffet for under $10
DAYS & HOURS: Mon–Fri 10:30a–3p, Sat 8a–2:30p and 6p–10p; Sun 11a–5p
ADDRESS: 4689 U.S. Highway 80 East, Selma, AL MAP
DESCRIPTION: Features the colorful work of Selma-born African American artist, Robert Baynes, whose drawings and acrylic canvases portray both humorous and serious subject matter.
DAYS & HOURS: Mon–Fri 10a–5p; Sat 10a–1p
ADDRESS: 706 Broad Street, Selma, AL MAP
Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights Trail
DESCRIPTION: On 12 November 1996, the US Congress established the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail to commemorate the 5-day, 54-miles march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights. Trail starts at Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma and travels the route across Edmund Pettus Bridge, along Highway 80 and to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Jimmie Lee Jackson, shot while trying to protect his mother and grandfather from state troopers during a 1965 voting rights protest in Marion, Alabama. His death sparked the Selma to Montgomery Marches. Along the way, stop at the memorial to Viola Liuzzo, a white housewife from Michigan who was killed by Klansmen while transporting Selma to Montgomery voting rights marchers. At the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, where Dr. King delivered one of his greatest speeches, “How Long, Not Long.” The march attracted so much attention because many white Hollywood movie stars and entertainers participated in the concluding Stars for Freedom Rally.