The capital of Alabama was an important place in the life of Martin Luther King and is considered the birthplace of the US civil rights movement.
The most crucial event was the Montgomery bus boycott. On 1 December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her place on the bus to a white passenger. This was a violation of the segregation laws of the time and Parks was arrested. The Afro-American community in Montgomery responded by boycotting the buses for more than a year, until the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public buses was illegal. This was a major victory for the civil rights campaign. The story of the bus boycott and the events surrounding it are told today in the Rosa Parks Library & Museum.
The museum also contains many references to Martin Luther King, who was one of the driving forces behind the Montgomery bus boycott. Shortly before the boycott he had become a minister at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where you can take a guided tour to retrace his footsteps.
The house in which King lived from 1954 to 1960 is now the Dexter Parsonage Museum. The tours in the museum are often given by people who knew King personally.
You can also find traces of Martin Luther King in Montgomery at the Civil Rights Memorial Center, set up by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The Center devotes attention to King, who was assassinated in 1968, and to many others who were victims of racism or who lost their lives in the struggle for civil rights in the southern states of the US. They include Emmett Louis Till, who was murdered at the age of 14 for talking to a white woman, Willie Edwards (25), killed by the Ku Klux Klan, and Medgar Evens, a 38-year-old civil rights activist killed in Mississippi.
The former Greyhound bus station is worth a visit. In 1961 Montgomery was one of the places visited by the Freedom Riders, a group of white and Afro-American activists who travelled through the southern states by bus in protest at the policy of segregation pursued by the major national bus companies. En route, they often encountered racist violence, including when they stopped at Montgomery. Their controversial journey is commemorated in a museum on the spot in the city where they fought against racial segregation.
Another location in Montgomery with strong connections to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement is the First Baptist Church. The minister at the church at the time was Ralph David Abernathy, a close friend of King and a loyal companion in the struggle for civil rights.
For more information on visiting Montgomery: http://www.visitingmontgomery.com/