Memphis, Tennessee audio tour: Historical Memphis: African American Stories, from Slavery to Civil Rights

Historical Memphis: African American Stories, from Slavery to Civil Rights

Driving Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

Memphis is much more than home of the blues, soul and rock ’n’ roll. Join me on a driving tour that’ll show you a side of the city that traditional tours don’t provide, exploring aspects of Memphis’ African American experience, from Slavery to Civil Rights.

Our journey starts where the city began, near the Mississippi River – a mighty body of water that transported cotton, and enslaved people, and also led to exponential growth during the 1850s and 60s. On this tour, you’ll drive down the street once known as Cotton Row and past our Cotton Museum where, if you choose to visit, you’ll learn more about cotton than you could ever imagine.

I’ll show you sites that are directly connected to slavery in Memphis including a lynching site, an area once known as Auction Square and Slave Haven, a stop on the Underground Railroad and now a museum. You’ll hear about a man who gained his wealth in the slave trading industry and later became a well-known general in the Confederate Army. We’ll drive towards the area once known as the slave mart, where many of those who were enslaved were sold to the highest bidder. I’ll also tell you about a very courageous and bold woman, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who lived in Memphis and became known worldwide as an African American journalist and activist.

Our journey ends at the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a major leader in the civil rights movement, was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel, now part of the National Civil Rights Museum, which traces the movement’s history from the 17th Century to the present.


Silent Partner - Get Back

Mini Vandals - Black Terrier Blues

Please note Construction has taken place on the route since the tour was published. Some detours might be needed. Please refer to the map on your screen to get back on track.

Tour Producer


Carolyn Michael-Banks

Greetings! My name is Carolyn Michael-Banks and I am the founder and owner of A Tour of Possibilities, and African American history tour of Memphis, TN. I’ve been in the tourism industry for over 25 years and have researched, developed tour routes, written scripts and trained tour guides in Washington D.C, Savannah, GA, Philadelphia, PA and Memphis, TN. I am originally from the “boogie down Bronx” but have called Memphis home for over 20 years. I’m looking forward to sharing this incredibly rich city with you!

Major Landmarks

  • Mississippi River

  • Slave Haven/Underground Railroad Museum

  • St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital

  • Beale Street

  • Orpheum Theater

  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Reflection Park

  • National Civil Rights Museum/Lorraine Motel/site of Dr. King’s assassination

Directions to Starting Point

The tour begins in the parking lot @ the TN Welcome Center @ 119 Riverside Dr, Memphis, TN 38103. Tour ends in the parking lot @ National Civil Rights Museum @ 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN 38103.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

TN Welcome Center, Bass Pro Pyramid, Slave Haven/Underground Railroad Museum, Alcenia’s Restaurant, Office @ Uptown, Beale Street, National Civil Rights Museum, Paula & Raiford’s Disco, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Reflection Park

Best time of day

You can tour at anytime. Some sites are better viewed during daylight hours. Check museum hours if you are planning on visiting.


Use normal precautions by locking your vehicle and removing valuables from interior if you are planning on exploring areas around the route.


Could use an update

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 3 months ago

Thank you for your feedback. We are in the process of updating the tour. Memphis' growth has made driving the tour a bit challenging. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Posted by Carolyn , 3 months ago

This was a great tour! I learned a lot and doing it on the app was very cool. Definitely stop at Slave Haven. Thanks Queen!

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 6 months ago

Thank you for this incredible review! Your support is priceless! Carolyn Michael-Banks aka "Queen"

Posted by Carolyn , 10 months ago

Thank you for this incredible tour! 10/10, would do again. I have a greater appreciation for Memphis’ history, resilience, and impact because of Queen.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 10 months ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Historical Memphis: African American Stories, from Slavery to Civil Rights