While the South hasn’t always been a bastion of civil rights, we in Savannah have often been considered ahead of our time when it comes to offering equal rights to everyone, and the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is the perfect example. Heralded as Georgia’s best “new” history museum and named after a gentleman who has often been declared the father of the civil rights movement, spending a few hours inside the walls of this structure may end up being the highlight of your Georgia vacation.
Even the history of this important museum is steeped in the Civil Rights Movement. The building was originally constructed in 1914 as an African American bank, but over the last century it has been an insurance office run by a black millionaire, and for a time, it was even the Savannah branch of the NAACP. Its transformation into a museum began in 1996, and today the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is one of the largest and most important civil rights museums in all of the nation.
Three floors of exhibits, artifacts, and photographs tell the story of the struggles African Americans faced in our state and discusses the battles they still fight today; civil rights are an ongoing concern, and although we have come far in the last 200+ years, we still have far to go.
Inside, you will find vignettes of the famous Woolworths Lunch Counter Sit-In, examples of segregation throughout the years, and one exhibit featuring an authentic Klu Klux Klan uniform. Paintings, timelines, even multimedia exhibits fill the walls, as do examples of ordinary black people who did extraordinary things to further the movement along. Learn about Savannah’s first black policeman, the death of segregation, and watch old videos of famous speeches on televisions that would have been new in the 60s. Feel the pain of those pictured and celebrate their victories as you explore all three floors; you won’t want to leave until every inch of the space has been visited! Closed on Sundays and Mondays, operating hours are from 10AM until 5PM.
We don’t know about you, but after we visit places like the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, we need a quiet spot to sit and contemplate what we just observed, and our Southern Belle Vacation Rentals escapes offer a sanctuary to let you do just that. Spacious and bright, modern and peaceful, the quiet will be what you crave. Reserve yours today!