Taking a civil rights road trip today is a great way to see America. But in the 1950s and 1960s, traveling the area shown on this map could be difficult and even dangerous.
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about the discrimination that African Americans faced—on the road and elsewhere—and why they were so impatient for change.
“…When you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you … then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait,” he wrote.
King and other African Americans were tired of waiting for civil rights—the right to vote, the right to go to good schools, the right to participate in normal life without fear. The U.S. Constitution guaranteed them those rights. And they were the same rights that white Americans had long enjoyed.
King was not the only activist traveling in this struggle for civil rights. “Freedom Riders” rode buses and risked beatings or jail time to integrate the nation’s transportation system. Civil rights workers drove cars to Mississippi to register and educate voters. And thousands made
the long march on foot from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama, calling for the right to vote.
You can travel the path to equality with this Teaching Tolerance map. From the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling to King’s assassination in 1968, this map illustrates an important time and place in our nation’s history.