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Alabama Tourism Director discusses Civil Rights Trail on global podcast

Alabama Tourism Director and author Lee Sentell discusses his new book, “The Official United States Civil Rights Trail: What Happened Here Changed the World,” as well as some of the important people, places, and events from the time period on a recent podcast.

Sentell was interviewed by the well known Rick Steves, who hosts the podcast “Travel with Rick Steves”. Steves inquired specifically about the stops mentioned in the book and on the trail that Sentell worked to create.

The first stop that he recommended in the podcast was the Lincoln Monument in Washington D.C. This is the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historical “I Have A Dream” speech.

Richmond, Virginia was another stop discussed. In particular, he suggested a monument that depicts a woman named Barbara Johns who was instrumental in the civil rights movement in Virginia.

A building that was a former Woolworths store turned restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina was the next site suggested. A sit-in began at the location on February 1, 1960. The sit-in was about the segregation of lunch counters and restaurants.

Sentell mentioned two sites in Tennessee that were important to the Civil Rights movement. The first was in Nashville, TN, commemorating thousands of students meeting with the mayor to discuss desegregation. Then on to Memphis where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and where the National Civil Rights Museum is located.

Topeka, Kansas was the next suggested place to visit along the trail. The city is where Brown Vs. Board of Education took place. This case, which was decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in favor of desegregation in schools across the country.

Sentell named Birmingham, Alabama as “the heart” of the Civil Rights movement. He suggested visiting the 16th Street Baptist Church, where a fatal bombing occured on September 15, 1963, and the Gaston Motel, MLK’s headquarters during some of the marches in Alabama.

Steves gave a very positive review of Sentell’s new civil rights guidebook.

“This is a virtual travel experience that you’ve given us with this book. I can sit here and read through it, and it’s so vivid. It’s not designed to tell me what time this museum opens, but it’s designed to tell me why this museum is important, and it really gives you a respect for this.”

Director Sentell is the nations longest serving tourism director and has been in office for over 20 years.

The podcast can be found on or iTunes.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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