The Civil Rights District in Birmingham, Alabama, has been named a U.S. National Monument.
The national monument, which encompasses historic sites in the downtown district that were significant to the revolution that took place in the streets of the city in the 1960s, should help attract more international visitors to a city that played a pivotal role in America’s Civil Rights Movement.
One of the city’s most famous civil rights landmarks is the 16th Street Baptist Church. In the basement of the church on a September Sunday morning in 1963, a dynamite bomb set by Ku Klux Klansmen ripped through the side of the church killing four African-American schoolgirls.
The bombing horrified the nation and proved to be a turning point in race relations.
Also included in the national monument district is The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Coloured Masonic Temple, St. Paul Lutheran Church and portions of the 4th Avenue Business District, which arose from blacks being shunned by white merchants, are included in the national monument.
Also, part of the designation is the A.G. Gaston Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. met and collaborated with allies during the Birmingham campaign.
“Birmingham was Ground Zero for the civil rights campaign in 1963, an era marked by attacks and jail cells on one side and non-violence and the resolute certainty of a better tomorrow on the other,” said John Oros, Jr., president and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau said.
“The national monument designation is tribute to the struggles and sacrifices that made Birmingham matter in the course of American history.”
The total number of U.S. national monuments now stands at 129.