Tag Archives: US Civil Rights Trail

July & August 2018 – US Civil Rights Trail Joins the Passport Program

The graves of Martin Luther & Coretta Scott King are just one of the destinations on the new US Civil Rights Trail, which joins the Passport Program this month. Photo from 2012.

U.S. Civil Rights Trail

  • Selma
  • Lowndes
  • Tuskegee Airmen NHS
  • Carver Museum
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. NHP

Alaska Public Lands Information Center

James A. Garfield National Historic Site | Underground RR Freedom Network

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area | Circle X Ranch

California National Historic Trail | Echo Information Center, UT

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail | Echo Information Center, UT

Pony Express National Historic Trail | Echo Information Center, UT

Ebenzer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. began his ministry is part of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park on the US Civil Rights Trail. Photo from 2012

Highlighting this month’s stamps are a set of five new stamps for the U.S. Civil Rights Trail partnership program. The U.S. Civil Rights Trail, which was just launched in 2017, actually has nothing to do with the National Historic Trails that so frequently feature in these regular passport cancellation update blog posts.  A National Historic Trail can only be designated by Congress, and must reflect a route whose significance arises from actually being used in history.  The U.S. Civil Rights Trail, however, is instead a branding mechanism to encourage both Americans and international tourists to explore the historic legacy of the 20th Century struggle for African-American civil rights in this country.

This program actually originated in an effort by the Obama Administration to identify additional American sites for recognition as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.) Despite the vast natural, historic, and cultural heritage of the United States, this country currently only has 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  That total is tied for just 10th most in the world with Iran, and behind such countries as Italy (#1 with 54 sites), Spain (47 sites), and Mexico (34 sites.)  The idea of the US Civil Rights Trail is to connect together all of the significant sites associated with the civil rights movement, that might ultimately become suitable for nomination to be recognized as a World Heritage Site.  UNESCO encourages such “serial nominations” that include multiple related and thematically connected locations together as a single “site,” so the concept of the US Civil Rights Trail could well boost the United States’ chances of being so recognized.

Currently, the US Civil Rights Trail actually includes nearly 100 different places in 14 primary destination cities, as well as in dozens of secondary destination cities.  Some of the 14 primary destination cities need little introduction to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the history of the civil rights movement, including Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, and Washington.  Others included in the 14 primary destination cities may be less familiar.  Farmville, Virginia was the site of a school desegregation case that was ultimately rolled into the more famous Brown v. Board of Education case from Topeka, Kansas.  Sumner, Mississippi is part of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and was the site of the infamous murder of Emmitt Till (January 2017 Parkasaurus).  Greensboro, North Carolina was the site of the first sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter.

This month’s batch of new cancellations for the US Civil Rights Trail covers the fully-operational National Park Service sites in the National Park Service’s Southeast Region.  The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia preserves both the home where the famed civil rights activist grew up and the Church where he first began to preach, and also has a fantastic visitor center. In an innovative approach, the visitor center includes a number of kiosks where you can actually hear the words of Martin Luther King from records of his speeches, and you can wander in and out of them as you browse the exhibits.

The George Washington Carver Museum can be found at the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site a short drive away in Alabama.  Tuskegee is also home to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.  Also in Alabama, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail commemorates the route of the historic voting rights match from the city of Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery.  The Trail has two visitor centers, one in Selma, and one near the midpoint of the trail in Lowndes County.  Presumably, the recently-established Birmingham Civil RightsFreedom Riders, and Reconstruction Era National Monuments will also get their own US Civil Rights Trail cancellations once those new national parks are fully up and running.

Eventually, National Park Service sites that are included in the US Civil Rights Trail, but are located outside the Southeast Region may eventually also request cancellations for the US Civil Rights Trail.  As of this writing, that list would include:

These ruins can be found in the Solstice Canyon area of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which adds a new cancellation this month. Photo from 2007.

Among the other stamps this month is a new cancellation for the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Anchorage, Alaska which provides information on all sorts of public lands in south-central Alaska.  This location had already been a cancellation location for the Iditarod National Historic Trail and for Lake Clark National Park & Preserve.  Now it gets a cancellation of its own.

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was established in 1978 in suburban Los Angeles as part of the movement to establish urban National Recreation Areas.  Like many newer national parks, this area is largely run in partnerships with the state of California, local governments, universities, and private land holders.  In fact, the National Park Service actually only controls just a bit more than 23,000 of this park’s nearly 157,000 acres, which is just 15% of the total land.  The Circle X Ranch is among those federally-managed parcels of land.  The Ranch was formerly a Boy Scout Camp, but now serves as the only National Park Service-managed campground within the park.

The Echo Canyon Information Center is a highway rest area accessible from westbound Interstate 80 in eastern Utah.  It formerly had stamps for the California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails from 2011 until the center temporarily closed in 2016.  Now that the center has reopened, it has a new set of Passport cancellations.

Finally, there are are six stamps that have been removed from the list this month.

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | El Camino Real Int’l Heritage Ctr, NM

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail | Junaluska Memorial & Museum, NC

California National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT

Oregon National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT

Pony Express National Historic Trail | Salt Lake City, UT

The El Camino Real Heritage Center in central New Mexico and the Intermountain Region Trails Office are both temporarily closed for rennovations.  The Memorial and Museum to Cherokee Chief Junaluska, who fought with Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, in Robbinsville, North Carolina was damaged several years ago during severe storms and has been closed indefinitely.

Final Shot: A trail heading off into the distance in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Photo from 2007.
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