Black History and Black-Owned Businesses Make Montgomery Unique
Take a tour of living history
Once a nexus of civil rights efforts, Montgomery is home to a number of lesser-known, deeply impactful historic sites that are well worth seeing:
Montgomery Interpretive Center – Positioned on Alabama State University’s campus, a historically Black college in Montgomery, the Montgomery Interpretive Center is one of three centers commemorating the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches.
The Harris House – A pivotal meeting spot for the participants of the Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March, the Harris House features tours conducted by Dr. Richard Harris’s daughter, Valda Harris. You can also see a mural of her at Prevail Union Coffee on Dexter Avenue created by international street artist Hopare.
Montgomery Tours – Not your average city bus tour, this one is led by Jake Williams, an original foot soldier during the Civil Rights Movement. During this experience, you’ll learn about the challenges, troubles, and triumphs Montgomery trailblazers faced in their pursuit of equality.
Learn about more distance history through art
A modern sculptural installation, the “Mothers of Gynecology'' monument stands not far from the Equal Justice Initiative and the Rosa Parks Museum. The sculptures commemorate the contributions of three enslaved women – Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey – who were the subject of medical experiments by Dr. J. Marion Sims, a physician who went on to become known as the father of modern gynecology.
Recent comprehensive re-examination of Sims’s career, and never-before-seen archival documents, has led to a reframing of the famed gynecologist’s research, which included neither consent nor anesthesia. The sculptures, depicting the three women as the “Mothers of Gynecology,” serve as a first step toward teaching the true story of the nation and honoring the courage of overlooked heroes.
Support Black-owned businesses while you’re in Montgomery
Any time you travel to a small town – or a community within a larger city – it’s important to seek out locally-owned businesses and support the local economy. A visit to Montgomery’s Civil Rights Memorial Center also offers a chance to support Black-owned shops and restaurants while you’re in the area including:
- Krab Kingz – The place to go for fried seafood, with everything from shrimp to oysters, plus the Build-Your-Own Boil specialty. Your choice of seafood, plus turf options including turkey neck or sausage and vegetables. Be sure to check out their mural featuring Montgomery landmarks.
- Weekend mornings were made for Vybz Brunch. Stop in for old-school favorites like fried chicken and waffles or shrimp and grits, or try something new and different like build-your-own hash browns. Vybz also offers a wide variety of wings, plus skillet fries and lots of epic appetizer options.
- Brin’s Wings – The name says it all: a relaxed, casual place for fantastic wings, plus fried green tomatoes, fried okra, onion rings, and french fries.
- When you’re ready for a quiet break in your visit, stop by Baristas and Barristers. Its relaxed, homey vibe offers a great place for a midmorning beverage – latte, tea, coffee – or something stronger as the afternoon wears on.
Make a weekend of it!
With so many ways to fill your time in Montgomery, you may want to make the weekend a mini-vacation. Adding to the list of excellent Black-owned businesses, here are a few unique and fun Black-owned places to stay:
Johnnie Mae’s Butterfly Inn 1910 Victorian home – This Victorian home features both historically appropriate antique style and beautiful Black art throughout. The deep front porch offers the perfect place to contemplate the solemn view of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice on the campus of the Equal Justice Museum.
Other Airbnb Options – If the Butterfly Inn isn’t available, there are a number of other historic homes available via Airbnb including this link. Conveniently located to visit the many museums and historic sites, as well as the newly opened Montgomery Whitewater, you’re sure to find a local accommodation that can facilitate your Montgomery experience. Make a weekend of it!
Wrap it all up in one can’t-miss weekend
Any weekend is a great weekend to visit Montgomery, but none can beat Labor Day weekend. All the history, culture, and food you can handle, plus the HBCU Classic. The entire Classic experience stretches through a week featuring the best of HBCU traditions, music, sports, and community engagement. There will be football games, marching band performances, tailgating, panel discussions, concerts featuring renowned artists, and so much more.