In September 2016 I decided I wanted to have visited all 50 States by 2018, at that time I had 20 States left to visit. By the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 I had visited four more States which gave me a total of 16 to go. Spring and Summer 2017 came and went and I thought to myself I was I really going to let the this year go by and not try to visit anymore States? I looked at the States I hadn’t been to which were Iowa, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, Washington, and Alaska.
The plan was to drive to with my mom to Nebraska, to go to Oklahoma, then Kansas and Arkansas. I thought that would be a lot of driving for me so I asked my Aunt Vern who lives near Charleston, SC if she wanted to go to help me drive and she said yes, since Aunt Vern was going we would have to pick her up and leave from South Carolina which was fine because the route we were going from her would hit Kentucky and Iowa. Adding two more states to my list, I asked my Aunt Geri who’s lives in New York if she wanted to go and if she would help drive to and from South Carolina, she said yes as well. My mom and her sisters are all over 70, so I was rolling with the golden girls (one of my favorite shows by the way). I knew it was going to be a good time by my road trip buddies but I wanted to make the trip interesting by trying to visit African American historical sites in the each state. I did a little research on sites I wanted to visit.
Day 1 Oct. 2nd
Our first State was Kentucky, (we departed at 8am from Charleston and arrived in Lexington at 5pm) we went to the African Cemetery No. 2 located at 419 E 7th St, Lexington, KY 40508. The cemetery sits on eight acres of land and contains 5,000 graves but only 1,200 are identified. Famed jockey Isaac Burns Murphy was originally buried there in 1896 but later moved.
We also went to Issac Murphy Memorial Garden located at East Third St At Midland Ave, Lexington, KY 40508. Not only is a memorial Murphy but it honors African American who contributed to the Thoroughbred industry.
Day 2 Oct. 3rd
Before leaving Lexington we stopped by the Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church located at 540 W Maxwell St, Lexington, KY 40508. Pleasant Green Missionary is said to have the oldest African American active congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains.
Our next destination was the Greenhill Cemetery in Frankfort located at the corner of east main & U.S. 60 and it was about 35 minute drive from Lexington. Greenhill Cemetery was founded in 1865 and has a stone monument in honor of 142 African American men from central Kentucky who served in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War.
After that it was onto Louisville, and that was about a 55 min drive from Frankfort. There we went to the Farmington Historic Plantation located to 3033 Bardtown Rd, Louisville 40202. The Farmington Plantation was owned by the Speed family and was home to 550 acres of hemp which was maintained by enslaved African Americans.
We went to Muhammad Ali’s childhood home, which is also a museum and shop, it was closed for renovation. It’s located at 3302 Grand Ave, Louisville, KY 40211
We checked out the Muhammad Ali Cultural Center located downtown at 144 N 6th St, Louisville, KY 40202
Our last stop in Louisville was the Kentucky Derby Museum located at 704 Central Ave, Louisville 40208 was our last destination in Louisville, we got to the museum a little after 4pm and since closed at 5pm so we just looked around in the gift shop. I purchased two lapels in honor of Oliver Lewis (the first man to win the Kentucky derby) and Issac Murphy (One of the most famous jockeys) Once we were done we drove to Crawfordsville Indiana where we stayed the night.
Day 3 Oct. 4th
We arrived in Iowa City, IA about 2pm and to visit the historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church built in1868. It is the only historical black church in Iowa City. Bethel A.M.E. is located at 411 S Governor St, Iowa City, IA 52240
Next we travelled to Des Moines which is about an 1:45mins away, we went to the State building
We then drove to Council Bluffs, Iowa where we ended up staying the night. Omaha was only about 10 minute drive from Council Bluffs.
Day 4 Oct. 5th
We started our morning in North Street in Omaha to visit The Omaha Star is a newspaper located at 2216 N 24th St, Omaha, NE 68110 the paper was founded in 1938 by Mildred Brown and her husband Edward Gilbert. The Omaha Star is still in circulation today and continues to print only positive African American news.
We stopped by the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation located at 3448 Evans St, Omaha, NE 68111. Just a block or so away from where he first lived with his family. The house is no longer there but the historical marker is in the back In the back of the memorial foundation building.
We then drove to Joplin, MO and stayed over
Day 5 Oct. 6th
In the morning we drove from Joplin, MO to Kansas City, KS which was a little over a 2 hour drive. After spending sometime in Kansas City, KS went drove 10 minutes to Kansas City, MO.
In Kansas City, MO we went to the historical 18th Street and Vine District to visit the Negro League Museum located at 1616 E 18th St, Kansas City, MO. The American Jazz Museum shares the same space as the Negro League Museum but we didn’t get a chance to visit.
Day 6 Oct. 7th
We drove to Greenwood, Oklahoma a suburb of Tulsa. “Black Wall Street.” to be exact. We visited the Greenwood Culture Center located at 322 N Greenwood Ave Tulsa, OK 74120. Outside of the center there is a couple memorials dedicated to the massacre that took place in 1921. We strolled down the once highly successful black business district, the streets were paved with plaques in memory of the businesses that were destroyed, some rebuilt and others did not.
After Greenwood we drove a little over an hour to Boley, Oklahoma, a once thriving all black town established in 1903.
Then we went drove about 20 or so miles east to Clearview, Oklahoma, the home of another once successful black town.
Day 7 Oct. 8th
We drove to Little Rock Arkansas and our first stop was the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center located at 501 W 9th St, Little Rock, AR 72201. The museum’s mission is to “collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate Arkansas’s African American history, culture, and community from 1870 to the present, and to inform and educate the public about African American’s achievements.”
Our next stop was the historical Little Rock Central High School located at 1500 S Park St, Little Rock, AR 72202. In September 1957 federal troops had to escort nine African American students “Little Rock Nine” into the school, as they started their first day of classes at Little Rock Central High School. We also visited the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center which is just a block away.
Our Final stop in Little Rock was Daisy Bates’ home located at 1207 West 28th Street. Bates was a civil rights activist, publisher, journalist and lecturer, her home was the headquarters for the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School as well a safe haven for the “little rock nine”
We drove to Memphis, Tennessee which is a little over a two hour drive.
Day 8 Oct. 9th
While in Memphis, we went to the iconic Beal Street, and the Lorraine Motel now the The National Civil Rights Museum located at 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103. The Lorraine Motel is the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4th, 1968. One of the most popular exhibits is Room 306 the room Dr. King was staying in when was died.
After visiting the museum we hung out with family for a bit then started our journey back to South Carolina. I had such a great time on my road trip, I learned and saw so much and I was happy to have shared this with my mom and aunts. Ten more States to go I better get to traveling…