Albany hopes to use civil rights history to boost tourism

Albany hopes to use civil rights history to boost tourism
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - After nearly five decades, the legendary footprints near Albany Civil Rights Institute will now be featured in the US Civil Rights Trail.

"Those folk who left out of this church and went downtown most times knowing that they will probably be arrested," said Albany Civil Rights Institute Executive Director Frank Wilson.

An overlooked crown jewel of Albany's Civil Rights movement could soon draw worldwide attention.

"It puts us in the same conversation with the Edmund Pettus Bridge, with the 16th Avenue Church, with Ebenezer Baptist Church," said Wilson.

The legendary footprints outside of Shiloh Baptist Church are distant memories of the role Albany played in the movement in the 60's.

"Keep on a talking, and marching up to freedom," said Albany Convention and Visitors Center Manager Teresa Smith.

"What happened here changed the world," said Wilson

The museum will now be featured in the US Civil Rights Trail.

The Civil Rights Institute was one of 11 historic sites where residents can retrace the footsteps of Civil Rights leaders, and city leaders say it will attract more tourists.

"We do trade shows and conferences all across the US that we try to attract group travel to Albany," said Smith.

The state recently added the museum to the tourism video shown at stops along the interstate.

"We encourage them to come and learn about how we had a significant impact on the national movement," said Smith.

Wilson hopes the designation will even motivate locals to visit more often.

"A lady yesterday and I had the lady in my car," said Wilson. "And she goes oh my God I've been here all of these years, and I never been there."

Wilson says Albany Civil Rights Institute's new designation will help staff get more grant opportunities.

He also hopes to host an event when a historical marker is placed at the old downtown city jail, known as Freedom Alley, to celebrate both milestones.

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