The town of Jackson, Mississippi was at the heart of the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.
Home to activists like Medgar Evers and the site of some of the most important protests of the time, Jackson was at the center of the fight for equality in the United States.
Of all the cities in the American South, Jackson tells both the sad stories of oppression and slavery, and the inspiring stories of the fight against racism.
You can still visit the site of the 1963 sit-ins that prompted President John F. Kennedy to speak out against segregation, as well as the Greyhound bus station made famous by the 1961 Freedom Rides.
The Mississippi Freedom Trail runs through the city, here are some must-see stops to help you learn about Jackson’s poignant history.
See the home of Medgar Evers, a civil rights pioneer
Jackson resident Medgar Evers was a civil rights pioneer. Among the many African-Americans who fought in World War II, Medgar Evers returned from Europe after participating in the Normandy landings, but was denied access to the polling station under threat of a armed.
In response, Evers became a civil rights activist, helping to organize voter registration events to protest local Jim Crow segregation laws.
One of his first notable campaigns was to boycott gas stations that denied black Americans access to their toilets. Evers then became a field agent for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he fought tirelessly against educational segregation.
After launching an investigation into the lynching of Emmett Till, Evers incurred the ire of white supremacists and ended up being shot while wearing ‘Jim Crow Must Go’ t-shirts at home .
The house Evers shared with his wife and family has been restored and turned into a museum in his honor. This is a must visit when staying in Jackson.
Learn about the whole story at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
No Civil Rights Trail experience in Jackson would be complete without a visit to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
In this unique and moving museum, the stories of the civil rights movement are told by those who lived through it.
Eight galleries depict the journey of African Americans from the transatlantic slave trade to the present, through post-Civil War reconstruction, Jim Crow, Brown v. the Board of Education, or the murder of Emmett Till.
The personal stories of those affected by this pivotal era and the unique objects on display provide a step back in time, while the beauty of the architecture and artwork provide a meditative experience.
Experience blues culture at local bars
You can’t talk about civil rights without talking about the blues, the musical genre that gave voice to the black experience in the American South.
The Mississippi Delta is where the blues was born, and Jackson is home to juke joints and classic blues bars that keep the spirit of the blues alive.
Once upon a time, the Farish Street Historic District was the heart of African-American culture, and although it’s a shadow of its former glory, it’s still possible to travel there to visit. the authentic juke joint F. Jones Corner.
F. Jones Corner serves classic comfort food in a community atmosphere. Live performances by local and regional blues bands bring the music to life at this nationally listed historic venue.
Meanwhile, Hal & Mal’s, another area staple, offers regular live music while serving delicious Southern cuisine. An authentic place for anyone hoping to taste the true flavors of Jackson.
Farish Street Historic District Tour
Once the largest center of black-owned businesses in Mississippi, Farish Street today stands as a monument to African-American cultural and social life during segregation.
During the post-war boom of the 1940s and 1950s, Farish Street teemed with shoppers, the black residents of Mississippi who developed their own community and places of business there, as Jim Crow laws prohibited them from access to white spaces.
Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many African Americans moved their businesses, causing the neighborhood to decline despite numerous attempts at revitalization.
Farish Street is still listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features memorial markers on remaining significant buildings, such as the Alamo Theater.