New Digital Tour Highlights DC’s Role in the Civil Rights Movement

As the first large American city to have a majority Black population, Washington D.C. played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. A new digital tour highlights 100 sites that tell the story of civil rights in D.C.

The D.C. Preservation League collaborated with Prologue D.C., a company that conducts historical research and creates history-based media, and the Historic Preservation Office in the D.C. Office of Planning to create the tour. Each stop on the tour includes text that describes the significance of the site, historical images, and a map showing where the location of the site. Most of the stops are still standing and can be visited in person. Stops range from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library to the Park View Playground, one of the few playgrounds selected for desegregation in the late 1940s.

Kim Williams of the Historic Preservation Office said that the new tour was important because it shows the relationship between Civil Rights and the city’s disenfranchisement. “The city’s battle for Home Rule was unique to D.C. and really set it apart from what was happening in other cities around the country. D.C. was a majority African American city and entirely disenfranchised … Gaining Home Rule in 1974 was a huge victory for D.C. and the civil rights movement,” she said.

The creators plan to update the tour as new information and resources become available. The Civil Rights tour can be accessed through the website or through the DC Historic Sites mobile app.