In the 1960s, Birmingham, Alabama, was one of the most segregated places in the United States. Nonviolent protesters suffered brutal mistreatment and ultimately changed the course of history. Now, we can recognize this critical chapter in the struggle for equality with a new national park site.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
Preserve Critical Pieces of Civil Rights History in Birmingham
Please urge President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument as a new national park site.Take Action
So wrote Martin Luther King, Jr., in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in April 1963. King wrote these words in the margins of a newspaper while serving solitary confinement after his arrest at one of the many historic nonviolent protests, known as “Project C,” that he and local Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights helped to lead.
Day after day, hundreds of marchers took to the streets to take a stand against race-based injustice in the city. Police and firemen violently disrupted these protests and attacked participants with night sticks, dogs, tear gas and water cannons. After police had arrested dozens of adult protesters, hundreds of school-aged youth began participating in nonviolent marches, enduring similar violence and arrests. The protests gained national attention and eventually ended segregation at city restrooms, drinking fountains and lunch counters and removed barriers to African-American employment at city stores.
These sites in Birmingham represent a time in the civil rights movement when a group of determined citizens stood firm in the fight for equality and human dignity. A national park site would protect these important places and honor the events that took place here so that they are never forgotten.
The proposed park site would include portions of the Historic Birmingham Civil Rights District, including:
- A.G. Gaston Motel. Opened in 1954, this motel was considered a historic monument to black entrepreneurship in a time of racial segregation, and was owned by Arthur George Gaston, a prominent African-American businessman.
- Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Serving more than 140,000 individuals each year, the institute opened its doors in 1992 as a hub for children, students, adults and scholars, encouraging new generations of people to examine our country’s civil rights history as well as broader subjects such as equality and race.
- 16th Street Baptist Church. This church was the target of a bombing in September 1963 that killed four African-American children, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Caroline Robinson and Cynthia Wesley, who were attending Bible study. This act of domestic terrorism became a galvanizing force for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Kelly Ingram Park. Civil rights protesters gathered in this park for marches. Many of the April and May 1963 protests were violently disrupted by police here.
Sent more than 6,000 letters to Congress
NPCA supporters urged their members of Congress to support the creation of Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park.
Get Action Alerts
Want national parks in your inbox? Sign up for NPCA email updates to receive news, features, and opportunities to make a difference!