• 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.

  • NPR: Birmingham Leaders Call For Civil Rights Sites To Be Declared National Park

    September 16, 2016

    Banner at March for Birmingham

    photo by: Mark Sandlin

    On the 53rd anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham people gathered to remember the four young girls who perished on that terrible day. Mayor William Bell wants people to always remember the role that Birmingham played -- both tragic and inspirational -- in the Civil Rights Movement and began working with Congresswoman Terri Sewell, and soon after the National Trust, to make it happen.

    During yesterday's "All Things Considered" program on NPR, WBHM reporter Andrew Yeager told the story of our collective quest for a Civil Rights National Historical Park in the city while interviewing officials like Bell alongside locals who agree that recognition is long overdue. In fact, during his lunch at a local restaurant, resident Ronald Williams told Yeager, "Yes. It should have been done years and years ago."

    You can help the process along by adding your voice to the thousands who have already signed our Change.org petition asking Congress and President Obama to recognize the historic district. We hope that federal action will take place within the coming months.

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