Civil Rights tourism begins its comeback after shutdowns
ATLANTA (AP) — Tom Houck, who drove Martin Luther King Jr. and his family around Atlanta during the Civil Rights movement, is reopening his Civil Rights Tours Atlanta bus tours after shutting down during the pandemic.
Relaunching the tours signals the slow return of tourism connected to the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
It comes as more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19, though vaccination rates in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and other southern states lag behind other parts of the nation.
“Even though Georgia is not at the top of the list, the vaccine played a major role in my decision to reopen,” Houck said. “I feel good about it.”
At the National Center for Civil and Human Rights downtown, there has been a 5% increase in attendance over the past several weeks, Chief Operating Officer Donald Byrd said. The last few Saturdays saw the highest visitation numbers since it reopened last September, he said.
The APEX Museum on Auburn Avenue has also seen an uptick in attendance since it reopened.
“Last year was the best year we have ever had in 42 years,” said Dan Moore, the founder and president of the museum. “We are launching a lot of new projects and people are really interested in learning about our history and culture.”
The story is not the same at the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Park, where many sites remain shuttered. The King Birth Home, Fire House and historic Ebenezer Baptist Church are still off-limits to visitors at the park, which is part of the National Park Service.