Birmingham Civil Rights

National Monument - Alabama

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument is located in Birmingham, Alabama. It preserves and commemorates the work of the Civil Rights Movement. Birmingham was the site of the Birmingham campaign, Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail, the Children's Crusade with its images of students being attacked by water hoses and dogs, the bombing of the Gaston Motel – the movement's headquarters motel now designated as a National Monument – and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. The site also resides within the larger 36-acre (15 ha) Birmingham Civil Rights District, which was designated in 1992 by the City of Birmingham.

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Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

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Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

https://www.nps.gov/bicr/index.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_Civil_Rights_National_Monument The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument is located in Birmingham, Alabama. It preserves and commemorates the work of the Civil Rights Movement. Birmingham was the site of the Birmingham campaign, Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail, the Children's Crusade with its images of students being attacked by water hoses and dogs, the bombing of the Gaston Motel – the movement's headquarters motel now designated as a National Monument – and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. The site also resides within the larger 36-acre (15 ha) Birmingham Civil Rights District, which was designated in 1992 by the City of Birmingham. In 1963, images of snarling police dogs unleashed against non-violent protesters and of children being sprayed with high-pressure hoses appeared in print and television news around the world. These dramatic scenes of violent police aggression against civil rights protesters in Birmingham, Alabama were vivid examples of segregation and racial injustice in America. Via I-65 North or South From I-65, take I-20/59 NE towards Atlanta. Exit at the 17th Street Exit (first exit off of I-20/59). Bear right and proceed to the light. From that light go two blocks to 6th Avenue N. Turn right on to 6th Avenue N. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is one block up on your left. A.G. Gaston Motel The interior of the A.G. Gaston Motel is currently closed to the public and updates for the Motel opening will be available on the NPS park website at a later date. A.G. Gaston Motel The A.G. Gaston Motel served as the headquarters for the Birmingham campaign. In April through May of1963 civil rights leaders, including Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., took up residence at the motel where they strategized and made critical decisions about the non-violent campaign that targeted Birmingham’s segregation laws and practices. Several key events of the campaign publicly unfolded at the property. Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument encompasses roughly four city blocks in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Seven sites are affiliated with the National Monument - The Historic Bethel Baptist Church, St. Paul United Methodist Church, 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, the Masonic Temple Building (within the 4th Avenue Business District) and the AG Gaston Motel. The only site not within walking distance is The Historic Bethel Baptist Church. Interim Visitor Center The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument interim visitor center is located at the The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI). Here you can find brochures, junior ranger books, and the park's passport stamp. The hours are 10am - 5pm, Tuesday - Saturday. Please note the last entrance for tours is an hour before close. Via I-65 North or South From I-65, take I-20/59 NE towards Atlanta. Exit at the 17th Street Exit (first exit off of I-20/59). Bear right and proceed to the light. From that light go two blocks to 6th Avenue N. Turn right on to 6th Avenue N. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is one block up on your left. Mural Sculpture of the four little girls 4 separate statues of the four little girls who were killed in the 16th st Baptist Church bombing Hundreds of people visit Kelly Ingram Park each year to learn about the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham Kelly Ingram Park foot soldiers statue Statue of a boy being grabbed by a policemen who is holding a dog posed to bite on a leash Statue in Kelly Ingram park dedicated to Birmingham Foot soldiers 16th St. Baptist Church Colored Photo of the front of the 16th St. Baptist Church Hundreds of people visit Birmingham each year to see the 16th St. Baptist Church and learn about its important role in Birmingham's Civil Rights Movement A.G. Gaston Motel Partnership: The City of Birmingham and the National Park Service The Gaston Motel, part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, is jointly managed by the City of Birmingham and the NPS. At a time when the city enforced the segregation of public accommodations such as parks, playgrounds, hotels, restaurants, theaters, and buses, the Gaston Motel provided a restaurant and accommodations to African American travelers. It played a prominent role during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement. Two men in suits and hats in the parking lot of a motel. The A.G. Gaston Motel and the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument The A.G. Gaston Motel opened in 1954, built by prominent African American businessman and entrepreneur Arthur George Gaston. It was a significant site of civil rights activities in 1963, when it served as the headquarters of the campaign to desegregate public accommodations in Birmingham, Alabama. From the motel, leaders made critical decisions that advanced the cause of civil rights locally and shaped events and legislation nationally. A.G. Gaston and R.A. Hester, wearing suits, ties, and hats, in the courtyard of Gaston Motel National Park Getaway: Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument Birmingham, Alabama, is a place where snarling dogs snapped at children. A place where police blasted peaceful protesters with fire hoses. A place where inequality and humiliation was baked into every day life for African Americans. But Birmingham is also a place of hope. A place where men, women, and children took a stand for themselves, and for our country. A place where people dared to dream that our nation might truly live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all. Statue of a police officer grabbing a child while holding the leash of an aggressive police dog Conservation Diaries: Kia Hill, Storyteller of Black History and Administrator Meet Kia Hill, the secretary for the superintendent of Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and the Freedom Riders National Monument in Alabama. Before landing this job, Kia was an intern and a park ranger at Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. Learn more about Kia’s journey to the National Park Service and her passion for storytelling and being a role model for Black youth. park ranger walking through an open bridge The Modern Civil Rights Movement in the National Capital Area The national capital area’s everyday people contributed to the overall success of the modern Civil Rights Movement. From students to pastors, lawyers to teachers, parents and every-day people planned efforts between the 1950s to the 1960s to eliminate segregation and the discrimination. Civil Rights leaders surrounded by journalists and media. Chapter 2: Give My Regards to Clark, Poindexter Kenny is in fourth grade at Clark Elementary, the same grade as Larry Dunn, aka the king of kindergarten through fourth grade. Normally Larry Dunn teases Kenny for having a lazy eye and always reading, but when Byron is around, Larry and the others go easy on him. Everything changes on the way to school one morning, when two new boys get on the school bus. A collage of a vintage postcard featuring a public school and an outline of an open book Joe Louis Theresa Runstedtler, professor of History at American University, on boxer Joe Louis. Collage of Theresa Runstedtler, PhD gesturing while speaking and the outline of an open book Series: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 The Books to Parks project links widely-recognized works of children’s and young adult literature to the natural, cultural, and historical resources protected by the US government. By connecting young people to parks via literature, Books to Parks encourages youth to develop appreciation for and stewardship of NPS sites. Simultaneously, the project encourages critical engagement with literature, providing readers with carefully curated resources that facilitate deep contextualization of texts. Collage of residential houses in 1960s Flint, Michigan and the outline of an open book Glossary for The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 A glossary for the reading guides to The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Chapter 1: And You Wonder Why We Get Called the Weird Watsons It’s the winter of 1963, and a terrible cold front has brought frigid temperatures to Flint, Michigan. A collage of climatological data and the outline of an open book Series: Voices from the Field: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Voices from the Field consists of short essays on many aspects of The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963. Civil rights foot soldiers and experts from a range of disciplines including history, linguistics, literature, and psychology discuss how their research and lived experiences connect to both the fictional story and historical bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Collage of residential houses in 1960s Flint, Michigan and the outline of an open book Acknowledgements for The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Acknowledgements for this article series. Christopher Paul Curtis’ novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 is part of the NPS Books to Parks project. Books to Parks links widely-recognized works of children’s and young adult literature to lands of natural, cultural, and historical significance that are protected by the United States government. Chapter 6: Swedish Cremes and Welfare Cheese Momma sends Kenny and Byron to the corner store for milk, bread, and tomato paste for dinner. Instead of giving the kids money, she instructs them to "sign" for the food. Byron is convinced this means they are on welfare, which makes him very upset. Momma says they aren't now, but the family has been on welfare in the past, and anyway, "food is food." Collage of a man standing outside a corner grocery store and the outline of an open book Chapter 5: Nazi Parachutes Attack America and Get Shot Down over the Flint River by Captain Byron Watson and His Flamethrower of Death Momma catches Byron lighting matches for fun. She tells a sad story about how her house caught on fire when she was a little girl and warns Byron that if he plays with matches again, she will burn him! Not even a week later, Byron is in the bathroom lighting matches for his pretend movie called “Nazi Parachutes Attack America and Get Shot Down over the Flint River by Captain Byron Watson and his Flamethrower of Death.” A collage of a comic book cover with a soldier and the outline of an open book Chapter 4: Froze-Up Southern Folks Even after fifteen years in Michigan, Mrs. Watson is still afraid of Flint’s freezing cold winters. She dresses Kenny and Joey in so many extra layers of clothing that the neighborhood kids call them “the Weird Watsons doing their Mummy imitations!” A collage of a black and white photo of a playground and the outline of an open book Chapter 3: The World’s Greatest Dinosaur War Ever The new kid in Kenny’s class is named Rufus Fry. Despite Kenny's efforts to keep his distance, Rufus sits next to him in class and on the bus, chews his ear off, and is soon following him onto the playground for lunch every day. Kenny shares his extra sandwich and apple with Rufus, who in turn splits it with his younger brother, Cody. Rufus explains that his family moved to Flint from Arkansas, where the boys supposedly shot and ate big, fat squirrels. A collage of two boys playing in a puddle and the outline of a book Chapter 14: Every Bird and Bug in Birmingham Stops and Wonders Kenny wakes up to see Joey getting ready for Sunday school. She is wearing a fluffy white skirt and her shiny black shoes. As Joey leaves, Kenny tells her she looks real pretty. Kenny falls asleep under Grandma Sands' magnolia free and wakes to a thunderous sound and shake. Then, for a brief moment, the world around Kenny seems to stop. Neighbors come outside to investigate the strange sound. Collage of police officers outside 16th Street Baptist Church and the outline of an open book Chapter 13: I Meet Winnie's Evil Twin Brother, the Wool Pooh Kenny, Byron, and Joey are going for a swim, and before they leave, Grandma Sands warns them about Collier's Landing. That's where a whirlpool caused a neighborhood boy to drown a couple of years earlier. Collage of a sign on a fence that reads No Swimming in These Ponds and the outline of an open book Chapter 15: The World-Famous Watson Pet Hospital A couple of weeks after the church bombing, the Watsons are back home in Flint. Kenny overhears that the bomb killed four girls, injured many others, and was intentionally set by white men. Kenny feels safe in a special hiding spot in a small, dark area behind the sofa that Byron nicknamed the “World-Famous Watson Pet Hospital.” Collage of protesters with a sign reading No More Birminghams and the outline of an open book Langston Hughes in the Classroom Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, professor emerita of English at Spellman College, on Langston Hughes and references to his work in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, PhD, speaking at a podium and the outline of an open book Play in Post-World War II America Steven Mintz, professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, on play in the 1950s and 1960s. Collage of Steven Mintz, PhD and the outline of an open book Post World War II Advertising Aimed At African American Consumers Robert E. Weems Jr., the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University, on the brand names and products mentioned in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Robert E. Weems Jr., PhD, and the outline of an open book Pretending to Survive Margaret Peacock, a professor of history at The University of Alabama, on children's war games before and during the "nuclear age" and their appearance in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of a photo of Margaret Peacock, PhD in front of bookshelves and the outline of an open book Traveling While Black Gretchen Sorin, director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program at SUNY Oneonta, on the experience of Black travelers in the 1960s as portrayed in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Gretchen Sorin, PhD, and the outline of an open book Radio and Postwar Advertising Richard Popp, a professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, on radio and advertising in the historical setting of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Richard Popp, PhD, looking through vinyl records and the outline of an open book The Hidden History of By Watson’s “Conk” Style Haircut in The Watsons go to Birmingham—1963 Luis Alvarez, a professor of history at the University of California, San Diego, on the history of the "conk" haircut featured in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Luis Alvarez, PhD, standing in a grassy area and the outline of an open book Credit At Grocery Stores Louis R. Hyman, professor of Labor Relations, Law, and History and Director of the Institute for Workplace Studies at Cornell University, on the grocery store credit system featured in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Louis R. Hyman, PhD, and the outline of an open book Language Variation Tracey Weldon, professor of English and Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost of Graduate Education at the University of South Carolina, on the regional dialects depicted in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Tracey Weldon, PhD, and the outline of an open book Magical Realism Wanda M. Brooks, a professor in the College of Education and Human Development at Temple University, on Christopher Paul Curtis' use of magical realism in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Wanda Brooks, PhD, and the outline of an open book Hunting in the Mid-20th Century Julia Brock, assistant professor of History at the University of Alabama, on hunting in the South and its presentation in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Julia Brock, PhD, a dog, and the outline of an open book Trauma Riana Elyse Anderson, professor of Health Behavior & Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, on the portrayal of trauma in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Collage of Riana Anderson, PhD, a small child, and the outline of an open book Chapter 7: Every Chihuahua in America Lines Up to Take a Bite out of Byron Byron wears a hat as he tries to slip in the back door. When he notices Momma and Kenny, he quickly turns around. Suspicious, Momma tells Byron he knows better than to wear a hat in the house and orders him to come inside. Before entering, Byron reluctantly removes his hat and handkerchief, revealing a new hairdo. Byron went behind his parents' back and got a conk, which means someone used chemicals to straighten his hair. Collage of a photo of Nat King Cole at a piano and the outline of an open book Chapter 8: The Ultra-Glide! Ever since the phone call to Grandma Sands, Momma and Dad have been acting strange. Momma is adding and subtracting figures in a notebook and Dad is driving all over town looking for parts to fix up the Brown Bomber (Kenny, Joey, and Rufus tag along). A collage of a vintage instruction booklet and the outline of an open book Chapter 12: That Dog Won't Hunt No More Momma is upset by all the changes she sees in Birmingham and in Grandma Sands' home. While Kenny eats his breakfast, the women gossip about old friends and discuss race relations between the Black and white residents of Birmingham. Later, Mr. Robert brings Dad, Byron, Joey, and Kenny to the best local fishing spot, and Byron appears to be enjoying the company of the grownups. Collage of a vintage photo of a hunting dog and rifle and the outline on an open book Chapter 11: Bobo Brazil Meets the Sheik Soon enough, the Watsons arrive at Grandma Sands’ house in Birmingham, Alabama. Kenny is surprised to discover that the neighborhood looks a lot like Flint, only with Alabama's famous sun and heat. Grandma Sands isn’t the big, mean-looking troll Kenny had imagined; instead, she is teeny-tiny and looks like an older, shrunken version of Momma. Smiling and crying, Grandma Sands hugs each of the Watson children, saying "my family, my beautiful, beautiful family." Collage of a roadside sign reading Alabama Y'all Come and the outline of an open book Chapter 9: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Kenny and Dad wake up before anyone else, listening to records in the car. When Kenny asks if they really have to send Byron to Birmingham, Dad explains that there are things Byron needs to learn that he is not learning in Flint. He then asks Kenny if he has seen the news of what is happening in some parts of the South. Collage of a book cover reading The Traveler's Green Book and the outline of an open book Chapter 10: Tangled Up in God's Beard The Watsons stop at a rest area just outside of Toledo, Ohio, for a bathroom break and sandwiches with grape Kool-Aid. The place looks like a log cabin, which Kenny thinks is really cool, until he discovers that the bathroom is just an outhouse. There are no flush toilets! Collage of an old photo of a rest stop restroom and the outline of an open book Series: A Timeline of Resistance: The Perseverance of African Americans from the Revolutionary War to the Civil Rights Era The story of African American’s fight for equality did not begin or end with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In the National Capital Area, dedicated activism and self-determination has been documented since the Revolutionary War through the present day. This series consists of six articles that outline distinct timelines of resistance and activism in the fight for freedom. A young African American girl gazes at the camera holding a banner for the March on Washington

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