Photo: Caitlin Cunningham


Lily Dorton '27

The BC freshman created an educational app about DC's civil rights history. 

In spring 2020, Lily Dorton ’27 and her younger sister began searching for opportunities to learn about civil rights history in their hometown of Washington, DC. Finding a good tour proved challenging, however, so they decided to get creative. Last September they launched DC Civil Rights Tour, an app exploring seventeen DC civil rights landmarks they chose as essential parts of DC’s civil rights history. 

We saw a need for a new kind of civil rights tour. We’re a big tour family, and after the murder of George Floyd we wanted to find one to teach us more about local civil rights history. But there weren’t many that went beyond mainstream locations such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial or Howard University. 

Many important landmarks have been kept hidden. Many existing tours don’t give participants a deeper history about the locations they cover. Eliza and I not only selected which landmarks to include on the app, but also delved into why these historical landmarks were kept hidden for so long. So much of this history has been whitewashed and is not included in textbooks, and tourists coming to DC should know about it. 

The app allows you to learn however you want. People can visit all seventeen sites or click on locations on the map to learn more about the destinations we picked, including the A. Philip Randolph statue honoring the labor activist, or the home of artist and educator Alma Thomas. Each landmark includes a description and an option to hear it read aloud, like an audio tour. 

There’s a place for the app in high school curricula. We have begun working with our high school in DC, which is considering incorporating the app into future lessons. We hope other schools across the country will eventually follow suit. The tour currently only includes DC landmarks, but we plan to expand to Alexandria soon.  


More Stories