WDIA Radio Also Added By Gov. Bill Lee
Known for its blues and BBQ, the the Beale Street Historic District in Memphis now has another distinction in its relation to history and culture.
It is part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, along with Memphis radio station WDIA.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced the addition of these two local landmarks to the trail during a press conference on Feb. 13, 2020, hosted by Memphis Tourism at the original B.B. Kings on Beale Street.
“Today is a special day as Tennessee shines a brighter light on the brave men and women who stood up for equal rights,” Gov. Lee said. “I am proud that with the addition of these two sites, travelers from around the world will have the opportunity to learn more about Memphis’ deep civil rights history.”
The Beale Street Historic District is a National Historic Landmark. The 15-block area was a hotbed for several African American businesses, a Freedman’s Bank, the headquarters of Ida B. Wells’ anti-segregationist newspaper, “Free Speech,” and churches after the Civil War. African Americans came to work, entertain and be entertained, shop and strategize during the Civil Rights Movement.
WDIA Radio was the first radio station in the country programmed entirely for African Americans. Efforts to break down racial boundaries pushed WDIA Radio to the top of the charts, both on the air and in the Memphis community.
“The addition of Beale Street and WDIA to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail will help spread the word of the historical significance of this community to our country’s long journey to equality and human rights,” said Mayor Lee Harris, Shelby County Mayor. “Both these sites will be invaluable additions to the trail and these additions will lead to countless conversations and learning opportunities for visitors and our residents.”
WDIA Radio and the Beale Street Historic District join original stops in Memphis which include Clayborn Temple, Mason Temple Church of God in Christ and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks in the Southern states and beyond that played a pivotal role in advancing social justice in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, shifting the course of history.
With the newly-added stops, Tennessee now has 12 stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail including Fisk University and Woolworth’s on 5th in Nashville and Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton. Visitors from around the world travel to Tennessee to explore where history was made.
For more information on Tennessee’s trail sites, visit www.tncivilrightstrail.com.
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks primarily in the Southern states where activists challenged segregation in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s to advance social justice. Famous sites such as the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas; the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth’s where sit-ins began; the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; and Dr. King’s birthplace in Atlanta, to name a few.
The people, locations and destinations included in the Civil Rights Trail provide a way for families, travelers, and educators to experience history firsthand and tell the story of how “what happened here changed the world.”
For details about dozens of significant sites and to see interviews with civil rights foot soldiers, visit CivilRightsTrail.com.