Derek Alderman


Phone: 865-974-0406

Departmental Website

Derek Alderman is an expert in cultural and historical geography, specifically related to public memory, heritage tourism, the civil rights movement, and African-American history. He has co-authored the book Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory and has written numerous book chapters and scholarly articles. His research has been highlighted by such media outlets as BBC News Magazine, USA Today, CNN, and Reuters. He founded the RESET (Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism) Initiative, a research and outreach initiative that seeks to identify, study, and challenge patterns of social inequity in the current tourism industry.

Topics of expertise: Cultural and historic geography, particularly of the US South; streets and landmarks named after Martin Luther King Jr.; heritage tourism; and Civil Rights memorials.

Recent media coverage:


Three weeks after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, the city council in Mainz, Germany, named a street for the slain civil rights leader—doing in just a few days what King’s birthplace of Atlanta took eight years to do. National Geographic, Wendi Thomas, March 12

The future of a Detroit house connected to Rosa Parks is in limbo as two groups fight over whether the civil rights figure ever lived in the house and offer conflicting views about what the home represents. Detroit Free Press, Frank Witsil, March 21

Near the corner where Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue meets Malcolm X Avenue in Southeast Washington, a local artist has painted a mural of King on the brick wall of a convenience store. Washington Post, DeNeen Brown, April 3

In 1999, Americans listed Martin Luther King Jr. No. 2 behind Mother Theresa as one of the most revered persons of the 20th century,Gallup said. The list included John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein and Helen Keller. WISTV, Kimberly Wright, April 3 (ran in 147 outlets)

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in Memphis, Metro Council voted to rename a major section of a downtown street after the Civil Rights leader. WSMV, April 3 (ran in 11 outlets)

The name Martin Luther King Jr. can evoke lofty images of peace and unity, of demonstrators marching for civil rights, of black and white children playing together. But add the word “Boulevard” or “Drive” after his name, and, in many cities, starkly different images can flood people’s minds: blight, poverty, crime. New York Times, John Eligon, April 15 (also ran in the Miami Herald and 2 other outlets)

It can seem like every week another statue celebrating a Confederate general or controversial historical figure comes down somewhere in America. Artsy, Naomi Shavin, April 24

Architects are drawing up official plans for a concept to transform an area of Bremerton, Washington, into an open-air hub for special events. In homage to Quincy Jones, the music icon who spent some of his formative years in Bremerton, they've dubbed it "Quincy Square." K5 News, (also ran in Kitsap Sun) Dec. 16

In one of its final acts of 2018, the New York City Council unanimously voted to name two streets after some of the city's most legendary offspring: The Notorious B.I.G. (who was born Christopher Wallace) and Wu-Tang Clan. NPR, Chloee Weiner, Dec. 27