MLK Memorial and other civil rights landmarks to visit in D.C.

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

The new Martin Luther King Memorialon the mall in Washington, D.C., opened to the public Monday, though the official dedication with President Obama and celebs in the lineup won’t take place until Sunday (unless Hurricane Irene delays the ceremony).

There are more civil-rights touchstones and landmarks to see after touring the new memorial near the Tidal Basin. Here are some suggestions from Destination D.C., the city’s tourism agency:

--Frederick Douglass National Historic Site [1411 W. St. SE): Douglass, the former slave and abolitionist, built this house on Cedar Hill and lived here from 1878 until his death in 1895. Douglass is known for helping slaves escape via the Underground Railway and lecturing on the immorality of slavery. House tours are led by rangers daily.

--Greensboro Lunch Counter (National Museum of American History, National Mall at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW): The stools and counter from the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, N.C., bore witness to a 1960 sit-in by African American students who were turned down for service because of their race -- an action that would become a symbol of the need for desegregation.


--Struggle for Justice portraits (National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F streets): The paintings and photos of more than 40 social activists -- including King, singer Marian Anderson and César Chávez -- are on display in this exhibition that brings together various historic figures under the theme of fighting for justice.

--Civil War to Civil Rights Heritage Trail: This free walking tour is marked by 21 signs around the city to guide you on your way. Some highlights: The alley John Wilkes Booth ran down after shooting President Lincoln and the hotel where King completed his “I Have a Dream” speech. Download a trail map and booklet.