Explore Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument

On January 12, 2017, President Obama announced the creation of Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Alabama. The monument, which honors the activists who struggled for social justice throughout the Civil Rights era, aims to inspire hope and tolerance in generations of Americans to come.

The designation—which includes eight of Birmingham’s most significant civil rights sites—recognizes the city’s pivotal role in the larger Civil Rights movement and will help visitors grasp the significance of what took place here. See for yourself in the guide below.

  1. The restored sign for the A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama.

    Photo By: City of Birmingham

    A.G. Gaston Motel

    Amid the streamlined couches and carpeted floor of Room 30, or the “War Room,” civil rights luminaries like the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized protests and devised strategy for the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960s.

  2. Birmingham Designation Announcement to include Civil Rights Institute

    Photo By: Cate S/Flickr/CC BY NC ND 2.0

    Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

    Since 1992, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has explored civil rights issues. A cultural and educational research center, the institute also focuses on social justice issues and efforts beyond the American Civil Rights movement of the 20th century.

  3. The 16th Street Baptist Church stands across the street from Kelly Ingram Park.

    Photo By: Mark Sandlin

    16th Street Baptist Church

    On September 15, 1963, a bomber targeted Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, killing Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair—young girls who were attending Sunday school. Occurring less than a month after King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, the attack marked the zenith of racial violence in Birmingham during the Civil Rights movement.

  4. Detail of Kelly Ingram Park, included in Birmingham Designation Announcement

    Photo By: Social_Stratification/Flickr/CC BY ND 2.0

    Kelly Ingram Park

    In May 1963, following weeks of protests, boycotts, and arrests, many of Birmingham's African-American schoolchildren gathered on the lawn of the park to protest segregation. From May 2-10, 1,000 child protesters were arrested, and in the days that followed, fire-hoses and police dog tactics were used against the protesters.

  5. St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Birmingham

    Photo By: Dystopos/Flickr/CC BY-NC-2.0

    St. Paul United Methodist Church

    Founded by newly freed slaves in 1869, St. Paul United Methodist Church was at the forefront of the effort to integrate those who had been released from bondage into free American society following the Civil War.

  6. Birmingham's Colored Masonic Temple Exterior

    Photo By: Library of Congress, HABS ALA,37-BIRM,6--1

    Colored Masonic Temple

    Designed by architects Robert Robinson Taylor and Louis H. Persley, and completed in 1922, the Colored Masonic Temple in downtown Birmingham is significant as a state-of-the-art community facility designed, constructed, and financed by people of color during the time of segregation.

  7. The Carver Cinema in Birmingham

    Photo By: Jimmy Emerson DVM/Flickr?CC BY-NC-ND-2.0

    4th Avenue Business District

    The 4th Avenue Business District was the heart of African-American social and commercial activity in the city of Birmingham from 1908-1941, and includes structures that supported services central to the everyday life of the black community at that time.

  8. Bethel Baptist Church Exterior

    Photo By: Library of Congress, HABS ALA,37-BIRM,26--1

    Bethel Baptist Church

    Though Bethel Baptist Church is located almost two miles from the geographic center of the monument, the church served as a central meeting place for many protesting segregation in Birmingham.

The effort to designate Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, which was led by the National Trust and included a historic structures report for the A.G. Gaston Motel and other preservation expertise, would not have been possible without the help of our partners, including the city of Birmingham and its mayor William Bell, the National Parks Conservation Association, and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell.

Join us in protecting and restoring places where significant African American history happened.

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