VisitHBURG Kicks Off Black History Month with Updated Freedom Summer Driving and Audio Tour
HATTIESBURG (January 31, 2019) —VisitHATTIESBURG is kicking off Black History Month with the relaunch of an updated 1964 Freedom Summer Trail and its accompanying audio tour. The 16-stop Hattiesburg tour begins at the Visitors Center, winds through downtown, the Palmer’s Crossing community, and ends at The University of Southern Mississippi.
Freedom Summer played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement, with Hattiesburg serving as the largest Freedom Summer site in Mississippi. It was sparked by Freedom Day on January 22, 1964, when hundreds of African-American residents waited at the Forrest County Courthouse to register to vote. Beginning July 4 that year, 3,000 volunteers traveled to Hattiesburg to teach subjects not commonly taught in segregated schools and to help African Americans register to vote. Hattiesburg became known as the “Mecca of the Freedom School World” as a result of the numerous Freedom Schools established that summer.
“Freedom Summer strengthened the Civil Rights Movement, and we are honored to celebrate Hattiesburg’s journey not only during Black History Month but year-round. This inspiring tour provides a platform to share a significant part of Hattiesburg’s story,” Hattiesburg Tourism Commission Chair Frank James said.
The Freedom Summer Trail and its accompanying audio tour lets participants explore the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg through stories shared by those who experienced Freedom Summer. Each stop on the driving tour is a significant landmark from Freedom Summer and has an audio component found at HBURGFreedomTrail.org.
“In the past few years, we have seen growth in historical attractions, such as the new world-class Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson. Hattiesburg is certainly a cultural destination with several impressive historical assets and more in development. By promoting these attractions, such as the Freedom Summer Trail and African American Military History Museum, as a bundle, Hattiesburg’s authentic story will continue to be told on both a state and national platform,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHATTIESBURG, said.
VisitHATTIESBURG works closely with the Visit Mississippi office to ensure all of its tourism attractions are effectively marketed, including this newly enhanced trail.
“Mississippi remains committed to sharing the complex story of its civil rights history through our state-of-the-art Civil Rights Museum and statewide Mississippi Freedom Trail,” said Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray. “Hattiesburg’s enhanced Freedom Summer Trail adds to the story and is another way visitors can learn more about our civil rights history and explore the culturally rich region.”
Though this program was established in the early 2000s, VisitHATTIESBURG has worked closely with The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage as well as the City of Hattiesburg to install new signage throughout the community. Upgrades include a new website, logo, wayfinding signage, brochure, and marketing video, the addition of a tour stop, and audio tour production.
“We are actively marketing a heritage-themed itinerary to several markets, tour bus operators, and conferences to offer to visitors a reason to extend their stay in Hattiesburg,” Dorsey said.
Those interested in taking the tour can download the brochure online or pick it up from local hotels, community centers, or the Visitors Center. For more information on the 1964 Freedom Summer Trail, visit HBURGFreedomTrail.org or VisitHBURG.org.
The Hattiesburg Tourism Commission, doing business as VisitHATTIESBURG, is the official Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for the City of Hattiesburg. Created to promote the Greater Hattiesburg Area and its tourism industry to potential visitors, the mission of VisitHATTIESBURG is to increase overnight bookings for both leisure and corporate travel with the ultimate goal of growing the economic impact of these visitors on the local economy. By marketing Hattiesburg’s local hotel, dining, attraction, and shopping options, VisitHBURG has successfully tripled the city’s tourism industry since being established in 1990, making greater HBURG the third most visited city in Mississippi.