Public Meeting with National Park Service for Civil Rights National Park

October 24, 2016 by Tim Mikulski

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.

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