Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument Celebration Set for April 15

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Date: March 17, 2017
Contact: David Bryant, 404-507-5615
Contact: Saudia Muwwakkil, 404-507-5612

BIRMINGHAM, AL – The National Park Service and local partners will next month host a community celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, marking the recent establishment of Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

The dedication event — organized by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the City of Birmingham, the National Park Service, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation — will take place from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Saturday, April 15, 2017 outside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The event is free and open to the public. More details are forthcoming.

STATEMENTS
Stan Austin, National Park Service Regional Director: “We look forward to dedicating the new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument with our partners who were central to the park’s establishment. The park preserves and interprets an important chapter in America’s modern civil rights movement.”

William A. Bell, Sr., City of Birmingham Mayor: “It is a great honor to see the start of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. We look forward to the park dedication and community celebration in April and are pleased to be providing information to visitors at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Every milestone in this process continues to push the City forward and continues to build awareness of the Civil Rights movement overall in Birmingham."

VISITOR CENTER
Information about visiting Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument may be found in the gift store within the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI). Hours: Tuesday –Saturday, 10:00 am –5:00 pm, and Sunday 1:00pm –5:00 pm (closed on Mondays and major holidays). Please be advised that due to renovations, the BCRI is currently closed but is anticipated to re-open on Tuesday, March 21. For updates, go to www.bcri.org.

Visitors to the BCRI gift store will also find their official Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument cancellation stamp. The Passport To Your National Parks® program is one of the most popular ways to preserve memories of visits to America’s national parks. The program includes a series of books in which to collect park cancellations (or “stamps”), cancellations that can be collected at nearly every national park, an annual set of commemorative stamps, and a companion app. The program is run by Eastern National, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit cooperating association that supports the interpretive, educational, and scientific programs and services of the National Park Service and other public trust partners. For more information, please visit http://easternnational.org/what-we-do/passport/.

BACKGROUND
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument was established as a unit of the National Park System by Presidential Proclamation on January 12, 2017 in recognition of the nationally significant events that took place in Birmingham in 1963 during the modern civil rights movement. That spring, images of snarling police dogs unleashed against non-violent protesters and of children being sprayed with high-pressure hoses appeared in print and television news across the world. These dramatic scenes from Birmingham, Alabama, of violent police aggression against civil rights protesters were vivid examples of segregation and racial injustice in America.

ABOUT THE PARK
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument is a new unit of the National Park System that encompasses roughly four city blocks in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. The National Monument includes the A.G. Gaston Motel, which served as the headquarters for the Birmingham campaign. In April through May of 1963 leaders of the civil rights movement, including Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., took up residence at the motel where they strategized and made critical decision about the non-violent campaign that targeted Birmingham’s segregation laws and practices. In addition to the day in, day out work of the campaign that occurred at the motel, several key events of the campaign publicly unfolded at the property.

Other landmarks of the American civil rights movement are within walking distance or a short drive from the A.G. Gaston Motel:

  • 16th Street Baptist Church, target of September 1963 bombing that killed four young girls who were preparing for Sunday school. This act of domestic terrorism became a galvanizing force for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (16th Street Baptist Church is privately owned and supports an active congregation.
  • Kelly Ingram Park, where protesters, including many children, were violently disrupted by police dogs and powerful water cannons. Images of the brutal police response to peaceful protesters spread across the country through the news media, shocking the conscience of the nation and the world.
  • 4th Avenue Historic District sites, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, as the retail and entertainment center for black-owned businesses serving African American customers during Birmingham's extended period of forced segregation.
  • Bethel Baptist Church, located six miles north of the city center, noted for its significant association with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. It was the historical headquarters of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights led by Shuttlesworth and was bombed three times – in 1956, 1958 and 1962. (Bethel Baptist Church is privately owned and supports an active congregation.)

Next to the A.G. Gaston Motel is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a cultural and educational research center opened in 1992 that presently reaches more than 140,000 annual visitors, and whose exhibits provide an overview of the struggle for civil rights in Birmingham.

The National Park Service is partnering with the City of Birmingham to restore the A.G. Gaston Motel to its appearance during the Birmingham campaign of 1963. In the coming years the A.G. Gaston Motel will be developed to accommodate visitors, but it is currently closed.

As the National Park Service and community partners develop future opportunities to experience and learn about Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, information and updates will be posted on the park’s official website www.nps.gov/bicr and social media accounts https://www.facebook.com/BirminghamNPS and https://twitter.com/BirminghamNPS



Last updated: March 21, 2017

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