Experiencing the Civil Rights Movement with Bing Maps

Imagery on Bing Maps enables you to interactively and naturally learn about history by exploring the places where events took place. Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. It is a day reserved to commemorate not only a singular inspirational leader but also the movement with which he is most closely associated—the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The country underwent turbulent changes during that period precipitated by events in places like Montgomery, Alabama and Greensboro, North Carolina. I’m going to highlight significant historical landmarks that you can experience through Bing Maps. While you’re exploring, be sure to check out the new imagery we’re publishing this month (and there is quite a lot) listed at the bottom of this post.

The Birth (and Death) of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Though many men and women helped lead the fight for equality in the middle part of the 20th century, Martin Luther King, Jr. has become a national symbol of unity and non-violent protest. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929 in this house on Auburn Avenue:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthplace

Martin Luther King Jr. birthplace in Atlanta, GA on Bing Maps


In October 1980 the National Park Service established the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site encompassing 35 acres and numerous buildings surrounding King’s boyhood home. It includes the Ebenezer Baptist Church (you can see it in the upper left of the image below) where both King and his father were pastors:

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, GA on Bing Maps App Preview


The site also includes King’s tomb. It’s the white granite structure in the center of the blue reflecting pool above. King was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968 while he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee:

National Civil Rights Museum

Historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN on Bing Maps


Like the National Historic Site, the motel and its surroundings have been preserved and converted into the National Civil Rights Museum, which hosts thousands of visitors each year:

National Civil Rights Museum 3D

National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN on Bing Maps App Preview


Martin Luther King, Jr. is remembered for many things including being a moving orator, dedicated pastor, and leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. However, the event he is likely most associated with is the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech before a crowd of 250,000. Imagine standing at the east end of the reflecting pool on the Washington Mall (where the National World War II Memorial is today), looking out over the sea of people and the distant stage set up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:

National World War II Memorial

National World War II Memorial, Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on Bing Maps


Peaceful Civil Disobedience

A hallmark of Dr. King’s approach to protest was the concept of peaceful civil disobedience and non-violent resistance—the notion that change can be affected by the willful refusal to obey certain laws, regulations and demands. An early role model for civil disobedience was Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger. This act landed Parks in jail but eventually led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, an organized effort that eventually (after 381 days) led to city passing an ordinance doing away with segregated seating. Today there is a plaque honoring Parks near the bus stop where she boarded:

Montgomery Bus Boycott Marker

Montgomery Bus Boycott Commemorative Plaque in Montgomery, AL on Bing Maps


The success of the bus boycott led to similar protests in other cities. A year after the Montgomery boycott concluded, four students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University went to the Woolworth store in Greensboro, purchased some sundries and then took seats in the “whites only” section of the lunch counter. They were refused service and asked to leave but instead stayed until the store closed. More students returned the next day and newspaper and television coverage spurred more participation in Greensboro and other cities. The sit-ins gained nationwide attention and eventually pressured Woolworth to desegregate the Greensboro store and lunch counter (even though stores in other cities remained segregated until 1965). The Greensboro store still exists as the International Civil Rights Center and Museum:

International Civil Rights Center and Museum

International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, NC on Bing Maps


A portion of the original lunch counter is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington, DC.

Sometimes Painful Progress

The actions of peaceful activists and protesters during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s began to break down long held barriers to equality, especially in education, but not without strong, sometimes violent resistance.

Any early show of unity (and resistance) came in September 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas when nine students (later to become known as the “Little Rock Nine”) were to become the first African-American students to attend Little Rock Central High School:

Little Rock Central High School

Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, AR on Bing Maps


The Little Rock School Board had actually approved a desegregation plan over two years earlier, following the historic “Brown v. Board of Education” Supreme Court decision, but the plan was vehemently opposed by Arkansas governor Orval Faubus. Faubus vowed never to allow desegregation in the state’s schools and even dispatched the Arkansas National Guard to block the students from entering the school under the guise of maintaining the peace. This set up an epic showdown between Faubus and President Dwight D. Eisenhower who, after a proclamation ordering the obstructionists to disperse was ignored, federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard. While it looks peaceful today, the site looked very different during September 1957:

Little Rock Central High School 3D

Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, AR on Bing Maps App Preview


With an imminent crisis averted, the Little Rock Nine was finally able to attend class but were subjected to continuous harassment by fellow students and Governor Faubus won a referendum that closed Little Rock public schools during 1958-59. What became known as the “Lost Year” illustrated the limits of government interference and the need for the public to resolve issues of racism and bias on their own.

Imagery as a Jumping Off Point

Images, like those included in this post, provide context for historic events but provide only one view of important events. Volumes have been written on the Civil Rights Movement and I hope you take some time this week to explore the wealth of information available on line through Bing.


Mike Gilbert

Principal Program Manager Lead

Microsoft, Bing Maps


January 2015 New Imagery Release Details

New 2D and 3D cities this month include:

United States Italy
Ann Arbor, MI Milan
Chicago, IL Palermo
Kansas City, MO
McCandless, PA
Nashville, TN
Omaha, NE
Pittsburgh, PA
Wilmington, DE

New Streetside cities this month include:

Arizona California (cont.) Florida (cont.) New Mexico (cont.)
Anthem Montecito Lake Clarke Shores Pueblo of Sandia Village
Carefree Monterey Lake Park Radium Springs
Cave Creek Moorpark Lake Worth Rincon
Fountain Hills Morro Bay Lantana Rio Rancho
Glendale Moss Landing Loxahatchee Groves Rodey
Guadalupe New Cuyama Manalapan Salem
Mesa Nipinnawasee North Palm Beach San Luis
New River Nipomo Ocean Ridge San Ysidro
Paradise Valley Oak Park Pahokee Santa Teresa
Peoria Oak View Palm Beach Sunland Park
Phoenix Oakhurst Palm Beach Gardens Torreon
Queen Creek Oceano Palm Beach Shores University Park
Rio Verde Ojai Palm Springs Zia Pueblo
Scottsdale Orcutt Riviera Beach Ohio
Tempe Oxnard Royal Palm Beach Beckett Ridge
California Pacific Grove South Bay Darrtown
Ahwahnee Pajaro South Palm Beach Fairfield
Aromas Parksdale Tequesta Hamilton
Arroyo Grande Parkwood Wellington Jacksonburg
Atascadero Piru West Palm Beach Middletown
Avila Beach Pismo Beach North Carolina Millville
Ballard Port Hueneme Asheville New Miami
Bass Lake Prunedale Avery Creek Oxford
Boronda Ridgemark Bent Creek Seven Mile
Bradley Salinas Biltmore Forest Somerville
Buellton San Ardo Black Mountain Trenton
Callender San Juan Bautista China Grove West Chester
Camarillo San Lucas Denton Wetherington
Cambria San Luis Obispo East Spencer Williamsdale
Canyon Country (91387) San Simeon Enochville Tennessee
Carmel Valley Village Sand City Faith Alcoa
Carmel-by-the-Sea Santa Barbara Granite Quarry Bloomingdale
Carpinteria Santa Clarita Harmony Blountville
Casa Conejo Santa Clarita (91321) Landis Bluff City
Casmalia Santa Clarita (91350) Lexington Colonial Heights
Castaic (91384) Santa Clarita (91355) Midway Eagleton Village
Castroville Santa Clarita (91390) Montreat Fall Branch
Cayucos Santa Margarita Mooresville Friendsville
Channel Islands Beach Santa Maria Rockwell Gray
Chowchilla Santa Paula Royal Pines Johnson City
Chualar Santa Susana Salisbury Jonesborough
Coarsegold Santa Ynez Southmont Kingsport
Creston Saticoy Spencer Knoxville
Del Rey Oaks Seaside Statesville Louisville
Edna Shandon Swannanoa Maryville
El Rio Simi Valley Troutman Oak Grove
Elkhorn Sisquoc Tyro Rockford
Fairmead Soledad Wallburg Spurgeon
Fillmore Solvang Weaverville Telford
Garden Farms Spreckels Welcome Townsend
Garey Stevenson Ranch (91381) Woodfin Walland
Goleta Summerland New Mexico Walnut Hill
Gonzales Thousand Oaks Algodones Wildwood
Greenfield Toro Canyon Anthony Texas
Grover Beach Tres Pinos Berino Anthony
Guadalupe Vandenberg Village Canon Butterfield
Hollister Whitley Gardens Chaparral Canutillo
Isla Vista Yosemite Lakes Cochiti Clint
King City Florida Cochiti Lake El Paso
La Vina Belle Glade Corrales Fabens
Las Lomas Boca Raton Cuba Horizon City
Lockwood Boynton Beach Dona Ana Morning Glory
Lompoc Briny Breezes Fairacres Prado Verde
Los Alamos Cloud Lake Garfield San Elizario
Los Berros Delray Beach Hatch Socorro
Los Olivos Glen Ridge Jemez Springs Sparks
Los Osos Golf La Union Tornillo
Madera Gulf Stream Las Cruces Vinton
Madera Acres Haverhill Mesilla Westway
Marina Highland Beach Organ Virginia
Mira Monte Hypoluxo Peña Blanca Blue Ridge (24064)
Mission Canyon Juno Beach Placitas Roanoke (24015)
Mission Hills Jupiter Ponderosa Roanoke (24018)

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