Plan Your Visit

Historic photo of the A.G. Gaston Motel taken in 1954.
A.G. Gaston Motel. Photo taken in 1954.

Photo courtesy of Birmingham, Ala. Public Library Archives

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.
 
Sculpture of policeman and dog attacking civil rights footsoldier in Kelly Ingram Park.
This sculpture represents the police violence toward peaceful protesters during the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement. The sculpture stands in Kelly Ingram Park, where much of the violence took place.

Photo courtesy of Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress

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.
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.

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 has partnered 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.
 

More Information about Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument:


Basic Information
Operating hours, weather, and location information.

Directions & Transportation
Getting to the monument.

Things to Do
Explore the monument and the area surrounding it.

Calendar
Special programs and events.

Safety
What to know before you visit.

Accessibility
Getting around the site.