Atlanta Georgia

African-American History Civil Rights and Beyond


Wake up with fair trade coffee paired with sweet and savory breakfast bites at the Sweet Auburn Bread Company. Options include banana, pineapple and coconut-filled Naked Hummingbird Muffins and Salmon Croquettes topped with homemade fig preserves. For meats and produce straight from the farm, plus unique eateries, visit the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market.


Widely regarded as the center of the Civil Rights Movement, the Sweet Auburn District was also Atlanta's first burgeoning African-American business district. Take an Atlanta Preservation Center walking tour and explore the many historic landmarks of this downtown community. Afterward, visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site - including the King Birth Home, Ebenezer Baptist Church and the tombs of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King. Next, stand in the footsteps of civil rights leaders on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, where the shoe prints of heroes such as Rosa Parks, former President Jimmy Carter, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and many others are embedded in a concrete memorial. Before lunch, head to the APEX Museum to hear stories of early African-American pioneers and the powerful families that helped transform Atlanta.


Enjoy traditional soul food with an urban twist at Gladys Knight and Ron Winan's Chicken & Waffles. In addition to the namesake entree, must-try items include Fried Green Tomatoes, Salmon Croquettes with Georgia Peach Butter and Sweet Potato Cheesecake. The Busy Bee Cafe has served soul food for more than 50 years to a medley of diners including office folks, policemen and visitors.


The Atlanta University Center, the world's largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities, has educated many famous African-American leaders. Clark Atlanta University, established in 1867, houses one of the nation's finest collections of African-American art. Morehouse College, the alma mater of Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson, now curates and displays the personal papers of its most famous graduate, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art spotlights a range of African-American artists, exhibiting contemporary works, folk art and more.

Visit the Hammonds House Galleries and Resource Center of African-American Art, which features African-American artists from the mid-20th century forward. You'll find locally and nationally acclaimed artists as you explore the creative forces churning behind one of the most influential modern art movements.

Tour The Wren's Nest, home of Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Uncle Remus stories. Perched on his magnolia-shaded front porch, Harris wrote the majority of his 190 narratives, which became the first serialized storyline of walking, talking animals. Preserved with the original 1880s furniture, tile, structure and fixtures since 1913, the house also presents storytelling on some Saturdays.


Starting in the 1960s, civil rights leaders and strategists came together for savory cooking at Paschal's Motor Hotel and Restaurant, now closed. Today in its new location, Paschal's Restaurant at Castleberry Hill still hosts Atlanta's leaders for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week.


As a city dedicated to progression and equality, Atlanta celebrates its African-American culture year-round. Here's a brief list of annual events, which spotlight this heritage:

  • January: Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebrations, Trumpet Awards, Honda Battle of the Bands
  • February: Black History Month celebrations, Bronner Bros. International Hair Show
  • May: Atlanta Jazz Festival, Sweet Auburn SpringFest
  • July: National Black Arts Festival
  • August: Bronner Bros. International Hair Show
  • September: Black Gay Pride Weekend, Atlanta Football Classic presented by 100 Black Men of America
  • November: Annual BronzeLens Film Festival


For more information on Atlanta's civil rights history, call (800) ATLANTA to request the Atlanta Heritage Guide - a must-have for travelers interested in the city's African-American heritage and history. Visit for information on these great attractions.

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