Legislation Calls for Creation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park

March 28, 2016 by Brent Leggs

On Tuesday, March 22, United States Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-7) introduced legislation in the House (H. 4817) calling for the creation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park. Birmingham was one of the most heavily segregated cities in the United States in the 1960s and was the epicenter of the American Civil Rights Movement. Civil Rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, and Reverend Ralph Abernathy held a “war room” at the A. G. Gaston Motel, where they skillfully worked to dismantle Jim Crow. In addition, the proposed park would include other iconic civil rights landmarks like the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, Bethel Baptist Church, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Birmingham has a rich collection of intact historic buildings that tells our civil rights story. The non-violent protest marches in Birmingham in the spring of 1963 happened here and became the catalyst and inspiration for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The National Trust is proud to stand with Congresswoman Sewell and advocate for the long-term protection of these places and the history they keep. A national historical park in Alabama has strong support from local and national stakeholders, including Birmingham’s Mayor William Bell and City Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

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