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Celebrate Memphis’ Civil Rights Legacy at Stax Museum

The fight for Civil Rights in America represented a long, demanding, and strenuous fight. Yet, the determination and drive of each individual that impacted the movement are still relevant today as we continue to fight for an even more inclusive, equal world.

The U.S Civil Rights Trail is made up of churches, courthouses, schools, museums, and other landmarks in the American South and beyond where fearless activists played pivotal roles in advancing social justice in the 1950s and 1960s.

Memphis is a prominent piece of the U.S Civil Rights Trail and holds a multitude of historic landmarks—and the new official U.S. Civil Rights Trail book takes a journey through school integration, protest marches, freedom rides, and sit-ins.

As you read, you can walk in the footsteps of activists at the National Civil Rights Museum, feel the power at Mason Temple Church of God in Christ—where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his last speech, “I’ve been to the Mountaintop.”—and follow the stories of courageous leaders that fought for freedom, and refused to be silenced

Civil rights and state tourism leaders invite the public to enjoy a musical performance, panel discussion, and book signing to celebrate the Civil Rights Trail book launch.

The Official U.S. Civil Rights Trail Book will be introduced to the Memphis community during a public program at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on Tuesday, August 2nd, from 2 p.m to 4 p.m. Museum admission for Shelby County residents is free on Tuesday afternoons between 1 and 5 p.m. 

The author of the book, Lee Sentell, started organizing the U.S Civil Rights Trail in 2007 alongside 14 neighboring state tourism agencies. Since the trail’s launch in 2018, it has garnered national and international attention. 

At the book launch, a panel discussion will be moderated by Soulsville Foundation President & CEO, Pat Mitchell Worley, featuring a mix of civil rights and tourism leaders. Panelists include Dr. Russell Wigginton (president of the National Civil Rights Museum), Elaine Lee Turner (civil rights foot soldier, founder of Heritage Tours, and director of Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum), Mark Ezell (commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development) and Lee Sentell (Official U.S. Civil Rights Trail book author and Alabama tourism director). 

The panel will discuss Memphis’s significant role in the Civil Rights Movement and celebrate the newest additions to the historic trail.

“I’m honored to speak with civil rights educators and foot soldiers at the Stax Museum where Black and white artists worked together to create music during an era of egregious segregation and racism in Memphis,” said Lee Sentell.

A group of young people singing in front of Stax Museum.

Stax Music Academy students will kick off the celebration at 2 p.m, honoring musicians from the period by performing songs first recorded at Stax Records.

The Stax Museum was added to the U.S Civil Rights Trail in early 2022, as it was the birthplace of influential, diverse music and musicians. 

The site features interactive exhibits, films, music, and more than 3,000 artifacts, including costumes, instruments, vintage recording equipment, photographs, records, and items of momentous stars like Otis Redding.

A man is holding a microphone at the Stax Museum.
A group of people dressed in white performing at a stadium during a Stax Museum event.
Historic WATTSTAX- The monumental music festival celebrating black culture as the world had never seen before.
"Stax interprets an important story about inclusion, successful integration, Civil Rights and African American achievements. What happened in Tennessee changed the world. We’re proud to include Stax along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail and draw thousands of visitors from around the world.”
Mark Ezell
Treasurer of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail Marketing Alliance

In addition to Stax Museum, the U.S Civil Rights trail has five other Memphis landmarks, including the National Civil Rights Museum, Clayborn Temple, WDIA Radio Station, Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, and Beale Street Historic District. These all played instrumental roles in the local movement.

 For more information about the book or to plan your journey on the trail, visit

Tennessee Tourism also teamed up with Travel South and Ingredient Creative on a mini-podcast series about the state’s civil rights legacy.

Don’t miss the opportunity to listen, learn, and experience the history of the U.S Civil Rights Movement. Plus, you may even get Lee Sentell to sign a copy of the brand new U.S Civil Rights Trial book. 

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