National Trust Applauds President Obama’s Designation of Civil Rights National Monuments
Statement by Stephanie K. Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
Today, President Barack Obama used his executive authority to designate the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Freedom Riders National Monument and the Reconstruction Era National Monument in Alabama and South Carolina, respectively. The following is a statement from Stephanie K. Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
“These new national monuments honor the pivotal role and enduring legacy of the civil rights movement and the era of Reconstruction in our nation’s history. They illuminate our long and continuing march towards racial justice in America.
“From the A.G. Gaston Motel to the 16th Street Baptist Church, the places in this designation well-deservedly join the ranks of national monuments and parks across the country that reflect seminal turning points in our history. A fitting final designation for a historic presidency, these new national monuments provide a place for reflection on how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go, to achieve true equality for all.”
About the National Trust’s Role/Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
In 1963, Birmingham, Ala. was the epicenter of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Now, more than 50 years later, the designation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument recognizes critical places and events in the city as a turning point in American history.
In 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the A.G. Gaston Motel, a key component of the new monument, a National Treasure and one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Over the next 18 months, the National Trust helped lead the effort to preserve the historic buildings and spaces that represent Birmingham’s civil rights history with the creation of a historic structures report and pre-development business plan for the Gaston Motel, stakeholder engagement and a national advocacy campaign. The National Trust worked in partnership with Birmingham Mayor William Bell, U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, the City of Birmingham and the National Parks Conservation Association.
The Birmingham monument also includes 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park. The National Trust will continue working with the City of Birmingham to develop and adopt an economically sustainable reuse plan and tax credit project at the A.G. Gaston Motel to help preserve its legacy and to continue to revitalize the surrounding area.