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Displays at the Louisiana Civil Rights Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana
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Delve into the past and look toward the future on a tour of Louisiana sites that have played an important part in the Civil Rights Movement.

Pay homage to courageous Louisiana changemakers and learn how their brave actions continue to reverberate today at landmarks across the state on the Civil Rights Trail. Along the way, get to know the rich history of this eclectic Southern state and celebrate the Black leaders who have influenced its unique culture. Each stop on the Civil Rights Trail features a distinctive marker that outlines the site’s importance, and many stops showcase photos and stories from the historic events that took place there. On your trip to Louisiana, you’re invited to “Meet the Markers” by visiting these fascinating spots, which range from schools and churches to museums and restaurants.

Landmarks and Meeting Places

Along the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail, visitors can learn about – and be moved by – Civil Rights figures who fought for change and the places that helped define a pivotal era in American history. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans was a key meeting place for Civil Rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Oretha Castle Haley, a local activist who challenged segregation and promoted voter registration. Today, you can follow in their footsteps and enjoy a meal in Dooky Chase’s dining room. Also in New Orleans, William Frantz Elementary School was one of the first schools in the United States to be racially integrated. In commemoration of that significant turning point in the education, the Civil Rights Trail marker tells the story and shares photos of six-year-old Ruby Bridges, the school’s first Black student.

Churches also form a significant part of the Civil Rights Trail. One of these prominent places of worship is Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, a historic sanctuary in Reserve, about a 40-minute drive from New Orleans. Dedicated in 1937, it was the first Catholic church built in the area for Black parishioners, who previously had to sit in the last rows of existing churches and were segregated from whites in parish social life as well. It now houses a historic marker and exhibits on the sanctuary’s history and is the starting point for the Historic Riverlands Church Tour.

About an hour’s drive north of New Orleans in Bogalusa, the modest Robert “Bob” Hicks House was the birthplace of the Bogalusa chapter of the activist group Deacons for Defense and Justice. The former family home of Robert and Valeria Hicks and popular Civil Rights meeting spot is now on the National Register of Historic Places. A historic marker tells the story of these determined fighters who advocated for justice for all Americans.

A Civil Rights Trail Marker stands outside legendary eatery Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans

A Civil Rights Trail Marker stands outside legendary eatery Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans
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Museums and Historic Sites

Museums and historic sites that are other key spots along the Louisiana Civil Rights Trail that invite visitors to travel back in time. In New Orleans, visitors to the Louisiana Civil Rights Museum can explore interactive exhibits that showcase the people who led protests and demonstrations for change in the state. The museum, which opened in 2023, is set inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Continuing along the trail in Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Old State Capitol features rotating exhibits with stories and photos of human rights and voting rights protests. An exhibit at the Capitol Park Museum, also in Baton Rouge, explains the 1953 bus boycott – the first in the United States and part of a budding Civil Rights Movement – as Black citizens quit riding for eight days to protest segregated seating. The bust of P.B.S. Pinchback, governor of Louisiana from 1872-73 and the first Black state governor in the United States, is displayed at the museum.

Next, head to Jackson, another 40 minutes to the north. The Civil War played a key role in Civil Rights history, so it’s fitting that the trail stops at the Port Hudson State Historic Site, which features a battlefield where a deciding conflict was won by Black soldiers fighting for the Union. This historic site includes a museum, regular living history events and an annual battle reenactment in March.

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol and its intricate stained-glass windows illuminated at night

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol and its intricate stained-glass windows illuminated at night
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Getting There

Fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). Rent a car so you can explore the Civil Rights Trail at your own pace.