• The National Trust Celebrates A.G. Gaston Motel's Completed Restoration

    July 6, 2022

    On Thursday, June 30, 2022, the City of Birmingham hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark a pivotal milestone in the journey to fully restore the A.G. Gaston Motel. The historic site, which is a part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, celebrated the completion of a multi-year long restoration of the exterior of the motel and courtyard, the coffee shop, dining room and a special exhibition space. Since 2014, the National Trust has worked diligently to call national attention to the preservation needs of the A.G. Gaston Motel.

    Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-7), along with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and the Mayor of Birmingham Randall Woodfin, among others, paid special tribute to the legacy of the motel and the opportunity the site now has to continue the City’s mission to “reflect, restore, and renew.”

    Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and Senior Vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Brent Leggs, also shared remarks on the National Trust’s deep commitment to ensuring this motel is protected and preserved for generations to come.

    “The National Trust is proud to support communities like Birmingham that are revolutionizing preservation practice,” said Leggs. “These historic sites bring forward a diverse and inclusive national narrative that plays a crucial role in redefining our collective history and, meaningfully, expanding the preservation movement in equitable ways. This innovation in practice helps us all make amends and walk toward a new era of justice.”

    A group of people standing in front of a red ribbon that has just been cut as part of an opening ceremony for a historic property in Birmingham, Alabama.

    photo by: National Trust for Historic Preservation

    A.G. Gaston Motel ribbon-cutting which took place on June 30, 2022. Pictured l. to r.: Denise Gilmore, City of Birmingham; Brent Leggs, executive director of the Action Fund; Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg; Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham; Odessa Woolfolk, educator and civil rights activist; Rep. Terri Sewell; and others.

    With urgency and intention, the Trust listed the Gaston on our 2015 America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List. In 2016, we named the site as part of our National Treasures portfolio and co-developed the March on Birmingham grassroots advocacy event. The National Trust advocated for the passage of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument designation and continues to provide support by way of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

    Learn more about our work to protect A. G. Gaston Motel.

  • Celebrate the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument on April 15

    April 12, 2017

    In January, President Obama designated the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument as a new unit of the National Park Service. Now, it’s time to celebrate! We hope you will join the National Trust, the National Park Service (NPS), and our local partners as we mark the milestone.

    What: Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument Community Celebration

    When: Saturday, April 15 from 1-2:30 p.m.

    Where: Outside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 520 16th Street North, Birmingham, Alabama.

    This event is free and open to the public. Find more info about visiting the National Monument on the NPS website.

    A key component of this National Monument is one of our National Treasures, the A.G. Gaston Motel, which served as the headquarters for the Birmingham campaign during the Civil Rights Movement. NPS is partnering with the City of Birmingham to restore the A.G. Gaston to its appearance in 1963; while it will eventually accommodate visitors, it is currently closed.

    We hope to see you on the 15th!

  • We did it! Announcing the creation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument

    January 12, 2017

    Thanks to your support, we did it! The National Trust is proud to announce the creation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Birmingham, Alabama. Over the next few months, the National Trust will continue working with City of Birmingham to develop and adopt an economically sustainable reuse plan and tax credit project at the A.G. Gaston to help preserve its civil rights legacy and to help revitalize the surrounding area.

    Today, President Obama also designated Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama, which honors the legacy of activists who boarded buses at the site in a challenge to segregation, and Reconstruction Era National Monument on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, which originally functioned as an educational institution for formerly enslaved people following emancipation.

    Join us in thanking President Obama for honoring these important pieces of history!

  • Birmingham's Civil Rights Story 'Needs to be Told,' National Park Officials Say

    November 2, 2016

    Banner at March for Birmingham

    photo by: Mark Sandlin

    Last week, U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis toured the A.G. Gaston Motel, Kelly Ingram Park, and 16th Street Baptist Church before hosting a public meeting on a potential Civil Rights National Park for our National Treasure and its historic neighbors.

    The tour and meeting are important steps in the national park designation as it continues the vetting process for the Obama administration as the President's term in office is coming to an end. It is hoped that President Obama will utilize the Antiquities Act to create a park before he leaves if a measure passed by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) is not approved by Congress by the end of their term.

    During the public meeting, many people spoke out in support of the designation, including Christine Means Ellis, 70, who marched in 1963:

    Christine Means Ellis, who was a foot soldier in Birmingham in 1963, came to Thursday's meeting to learn more about the proposed park.

    "It will give the younger people the opportunity to see what (the Civil Rights Movement) was about," she said, adding that she hopes the National Park Service will add listening stations for visitors and make the park engaging to children and teenagers.

    On May 3, 1963, Ellis, along with dozens of other students, walked out of Carver High School in Birmingham to march with King. They were taken to 16th Street Baptist Church where they shock the hands of King and the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth and began marching two-by-two out of the church on their way to City Hall.

    Ellis, however, only walked about a block before she was arrested. "I never thought I would go to jail," she said. "It took three days for my parents to find me."

    You can read complete coverage of last week's events from AL.com and show your support by signing our petition here.

  • Public Meeting with National Park Service for Civil Rights National Park

    October 24, 2016

    Just a little over a week after The New York Times published a fascinating article about the importance of the history of the civil rights movement due to recent events in America, the National Park Service and U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Alabama) will be hosting a public meeting about the creation of a new Civil Rights National Park in Birmingham. The hearing will take place Thursday, October 27 at 5:30 pm CST (doors open at 4:30 pm) at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church at 1530 6th Avenue North.

    In addition to Rep. Sewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director John Jarvis will be in attendance to discuss potential recognition of the "critical places and events in the city as a turning point in American history."

    If designated, the proposed national historical park would include the following sites:

    • 16th Street Baptist Church, target of September 1963 bombing that killed four young girls during a Bible study. This act of domestic terrorism became a galvanizing force for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    • Bethel Baptist Church, the church of Rev. Shuttlesworth. The church, its parishioners and leadership played pivotal roles in the battle for equality in Birmingham, including the 1961 Freedom Ride and the "Project C" protests that challenged segregation in Birmingham in 1963.-
    • A.G. Gaston Motel, built in 1954 and owned by a prominent black businessman, served as home base for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and "Project C" (C for confrontation). The National Trust for Historic Preservation named it to its portfolio of National Treasures almost a year ago.- Kelly Ingram Park, where protesters were violently disrupted by police dogs and powerful water cannons. Images of the brutal police response to peaceful protesters spread across the country, shocking the conscience of the nation and the world.
    • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which opened in 1992 as a center for the public and scholars to examine our country's Civil Rights history as well as broader subjects such as equality and race. (Information from AL.com)

    We encourage those who are able to attend Thursday's event to do so in support of the designation, but you can also sign our petition here if you can't make it.

1 - 5 of 9 updates

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

Learn More