Civil Rights Tour

Discover the events, the icons, and the places that have played a vital role in shaping the history of our city, as well as its present and its future.

Walk in the footsteps of those that blazed the trail to equality and freedom, and changed the face of Jackson, and America, forever. Use the Civil Rights Google Map to find notable sites listed below.

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum - 222 North Street

Discover the events, the icons, and the places that have played a vital role in shaping the history of our city, as well as its present and its future. Walk in the footsteps of those that blazed the trail to equality and freedom, and changed the face of Jackson, and America, forever. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum shares the stories of a Mississippi movement that changed the nation. The museum promotes a greater understanding of the Mississippi Civil Rights movement and its impact by highlighting the strength and sacrifices of its peoples. Visitors will witness the freedom struggle in eight interactive galleries that show the systematic oppression of black Mississippians and their fight for equality that transformed the state and nation. Seven of the galleries encircle a central space called “This Little Light of Mine.” There, a dramatic sculpture glows brighter and the music of the Movement swells as visitors gather. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum welcomes groups of up to 200 people. Reservations are encouraged. Email or call 601-576-6800.

Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument - 2332 Margaret Walker Alexander Drive

Not currently open to tours, public or private, the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home is one of the first five designated sites on the Mississippi Freedom Trail. Designated a National Monument by the National Park Service, the house belonged to slain Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers and his family. He served as the state’s first field secretary of the NAACP. Evers was assassinated by a sniper’s bullet in the back in the carport of the house on June 12, 1963.

Freedom Corner - Medgar Evers Boulevard and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive

A monument dedicated to Medgar Evers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the confluence of the only such intersection tie country, this site is a favorite group photoshoot opportunity.

Jackson State University - 1400 John R. Lynch Street

Jackson State University (JSU) is a historically black university that was founded in 1877 in Natchez, as Natchez Seminary, a private school, under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York, to educate Mississippi's newly freed and underprivileged blacks. Today, well over 100 years late, JSU is officially designated the Urban University of the State of Mississippi. Campus tours can be arranged by calling 601-979-2911.

Sites of interest on the JSU campus:

  • Margaret Walker Center for The Study of The African-American Experience at Jackson State University
    Both an archive and museum open to the public, the Margaret Walker Center is dedicated to the preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of the African-American experience. Permanent and rotating exhibits are on display. Visit the Jubilee Gift Shop for books, t-shirts, coffee mugs and other subject related items. The Center is located in the oldest and most historic building on campus, Ayers Hall. Call 601-979-3935 for more information
  • Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker - Gibbs/Green Plaza
    The monument is located in front of Alexander Hall where violence erupted during what started as a peaceful sit-in, staged in protest of the Vietnam War, and involving several hundred students and a large number of heavily armed State Police. At the end of that bloody evening, two young black men were dead and 12 others wounded
  • The COFO Civil Rights Education Center – 1017 John R Lynch Street
    Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) was founded in 1961. Created as an umbrella organization for all civil right groups functioning in the state of Mississippi during the freedom struggle. Voter registration and education were their top priorities. COFO organized the voter registration project during Freedom Summer (1964). Get familiar with all of the student freedom action groups at this center. 601-979-4348 • Tours by appointment for groups.
  • Gallery 1 – One University Place, Suite 4
    Gallery 1 at Jackson State University is Mississippi’s premier art gallery for the African Diasporic experience from pre-slavery to present day. The gallery emphasizes the educational and historical accomplishments of the University by showcasing its permanent art collection. Gallery 1 also serves as a venue for local and national artists to showcase and sell their artwork. Located at One University Place, on the historic Lynch Street Corridor, Gallery 1 brings heritage, culture, and creativity to the Jackson State University campus and its surrounding areas. 1100 John R. Lynch St • 601-979-9250

Greyhound Bus Station Freedom Trail Marker – 219 Lamar Street - Drive-by

Now the offices of Robert Parker Adams, noted preservation architect, this building (circa 1937) has a rich and sometimes frightening past. On May 24, 1961, the second bus of Freedom Riders arrived at this station and was met by State Police. Riders were loaded into paddy wagons and taken to a temporary holding site at the Mississippi State Fair Grounds. Mr. Adams, then a student at Millsaps College, and, like many other Millsaps students of the time, was involved with trying to help the Freedom Riders and other Civil Rights activists. Later he bought the building, restored it to original splendor and now his firm is located there.

The Farish Street Historic District / Entertainment District

The 125-acre Farish Street District is in the heart of downtown Jackson and contains over 690 structures/sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Historic District, once the second-largest Black Empowerment district in the nation (the first was Harlem in New York) was home to the urban African Americans and their families. It was the cultural and social hub for many Mississippians. Many of the marches and boycotts of the Civil Rights Movement in Jackson were planned and executed on these streets. Jackson’s first public school for blacks, now the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, played an enormous role in the formation of the roots of this area and continues to serve the community and all of our visitors today. A local guide can make the whole area come to life and help recreate the sights, sounds and emotions of its daily life. Currently, restoration efforts are on hold.

Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center – 528 Bloom Street

The Smith Roberston Museum is housed in the first public school for black students in the Capital City and was commonly known as the “Mother School”. It is named for a former slave, Smith Robertson, a respected community leader, and Jackson’s first black city alderman. The museum houses several new permanent exhibits including – From Africa to Mississippi and The Medgar Wiley Evers Retrospective Exhibition and the Civil Rights Exhibit. Advance reservations required for groups of 10 or more. Call 601-960-1457 for more information.

Tougaloo College - 500 West County Line Road

Situated on what was once the Boddie Plantation, Tougaloo College, a historically black, private, liberal arts institution, was founded in 1869. Located on a beautiful site with centuries old magnolias and oaks, the college played a vital role in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Students of history will appreciate the Lillian Pierce Benbow Room of Special Collections in the Coleman Library where thousands of documents, tapes, photographs, and artifacts tell the story of the civil rights struggle. 601-977-7905 or 1-888-42GALOO

Other sites of interest on the Tougaloo campus:

  • The Boddie Mansion (1848) - Originally the plantation home now houses the College Administration offices
  • Woodworth Chapel (1901) - Built mostly with student labor and recently restored, the chapel remains a center of religious life and cultural activity for the College and the surrounding community.
  • The Tougaloo Art Collection – over 1,000 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, wood carvings, and artifacts from around world. The African-American collection is considered one of the most exhaustive in the southeastern United States. Visit the art gallery in the new Bennie Thompson Building on campus. Admission: Free / Donations accepted. Reservations required for groups. Interpretative guide available upon request.

Other sites to consider as time allows

Beth Israel Congregation – 5315 Old Canton Road
Established in 1861, and currently housed in its third location, Beth Israel Synagogue played a pivotal role in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. In 1967, the synagogue was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan and the home of the rabbi at the time, Rabbi Perry Nussbaum, was also bombed. Rabbi Nussbaum’s founding in 1964 of the Committee of Concern, an inter-racial group of ministers that sought to raise money to rebuild burned and bombed churches, and his involvement with the Freedom Riders, led up to these bombings. When his house was bombed, the white citizens of Jackson took a stand and said, “that’s enough, this has gone too far”. It was time to change. Since that time, Beth Israel Congregation has played a vital role in building a new racially just society in Jackson. Call 601-956-6215 for more information.

Mississippi Governor’s Mansion
- 300 E Capitol Street
Tours: Tuesday – Friday mornings (Free) 601-359-6421

Mississippi State Capitol
- 400 High Street
Tours Monday – Friday (Free) 601-359-3114

Eudora Welty House and Gardens
- 1109 Pinehurst Street

Tours Tuesday – Friday and 2nd Saturday of the month (Admission Fee) 601-353-7762

Old Capitol Museum
- 100 State Street
Open Wednesday – Friday, 10 am - 2 pm

Reservations for groups of 10 or more required at all sites listed above.

Civil Rights & History

From the proud legacy of Medgar Evers to the powerful present-day Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, the history of the movement is here.

The former Greyhound Bus Station in Downtown Jackson
Credit: Drew Dempsey

Mississippi Blues, Freedom & Writer Trails

The blues and civil rights - and literature - has a rich history in the City With Soul.