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Civil Rights District receives special designation

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 9:42 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As we observe the 58th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, many are remembering how much has changed in the area since 1963.

The Civil Rights District now has a special designation that will keep the memory of the civil rights movement alive for many years to come.

“This is the ground that peaceful protestors marched on to demand our civil rights, and despite a life of segregation, and exclusion, and dehumanization, these folks, our ancestors marched and ultimately lead to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” said Gina Mallisham.

Mallisham, with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, said the Civil Rights District in downtown Birmingham is hallowed ground, and is important to not only Black history, but also American history.

The 16th Street Baptist Church, the AG Gaston Motel, the Carver Theater, Kelly Ingram Park, and BCRI are now being preserved by the National Parks Service.

“And so no longer is it up to the owners of each of these individual structures to upkeep them and maintain them so that we can continue visiting them and appreciating them,” Mallisham said.

The distinction from the National Parks Service means the federal government now has the authority to protect, maintain, and improve these public spaces, so they’re available to visitors around the world for years to come.

“National monuments protect historic and cultural resources and that’s really important and in the United States, national monument is protected area that can be created for any public lands and so now that we have the federal government and a proclamation from our president and our United States Congress, we know that this space is going to protect so that the history lives on,” Mallisham said.

BCRI is open to the public now and they are following strict COVID guidelines.

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