Minneapolis nonprofit visits Montgomery, Civil Rights Trail

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:36 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A unique group of tourists visited Montgomery this week. Members of the McKnight Foundation from Minneapolis, Minnesota, were in town to see some of Alabama’s rich history.

They booked their tour with Montgomery-based destination management company Civil Rights Trail Tours, an organization bringing visitors to the state from all over the country.

“It’s our goal to make sure that we keep this part of American history alive, especially our Black history and culture,” said Civil Rights Trail Tours President Leon Burnette.

As the birthplace of both the Confederacy and the Civil Rights movement, tourism is a huge economic driver for Montgomery.

“It not only makes a financial impact, but it makes an impact on our brand and what we’re able to do when we’re recruiting businesses and we’re recruiting talent,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed.

It’s why there’s a huge push by city leaders to advertise the city as a historical tourist destination, and Civil Rights Trail Tours is hoping to do just that.

“Our mission is to try to spread a positive light on Montgomery, as well as tell the truth about the civil rights era and what happened in Montgomery,” said Civil Rights Trail Tours Vice President Steve Myers. “It’s not always going to be a pleasant experience, because the truth is not a pleasant experience all the time. Over the last few months, we have really been able to touch some people.”

The tour company has recently hosted students from Massachusetts, Chicago, and New York. This week, they took the McKnight Foundation to the Legacy Museum, National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights Trail.

“It all came out of George Floyd’s incident in Minnesota where they’re from, and they’re trying to get a new perspective on where this world is headed,” Myers said.

McKnight Foundation President Tonya Allen said they plan to take what they learned and use the knowledge to help rebuild their city.

“We believe that this experience is going to deepen our appreciation and understanding of how to perfect that work, and we think that the Civil Rights Trail tour is an important part of that experience,” Allen said.

It’s that same history and culture the city is hoping will draw in more people to the area. The McKnight Foundation was founded by William McKnight, a leader of 3M, a Fortune 500 manufacturing company.

You can learn more about the Civil Rights Trail Tours here.

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