Anniston’s Freedom Riders Park and Birmingham’s Civil Rights District one step closer to National Park Status

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This week in Alabama, two prominent places in U.S. history will be a step closer to becoming National Parks.

On Thursday, October 27th, U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell will be conducting two public hearings to consider designating both Freedom Riders Park in Anniston and the Birmingham Civil Rights District as National Parks.

The first public hearing will focus on historic sites in Anniston, where on Mother’s Day 1961, a mob ambushed the Freedom Riders at the downtown Greyhound bus station and then pursued the bus to a gas station outside of town and burned the Greyhound bus with the Freedom Riders trapped inside the bus. The Freedom Riders narrowly escaped, but this iconic photo shocked the world.

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In Birmingham, the second public hearing will focus on designating the city’s Civil Rights District as a National Park. The epicenter of the American Civil Rights Movement, historic sites within the proposed Birmingham Civil Rights National Historic Park include, the 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of the 1963 church bombing that killed the “four little girls,” and Kelly Ingram Park, the site of the “Children’s Crusade”  where police dogs and fire hoses were turned on marchers, many of them children.  Additional landmarks included in the proposed designation will be the A.G. Gaston Motel and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Hearings

The proposed Freedom Riders Park  public hearing will be held on October 27th, between 12:30 to 2:00 at the First United Methodist Church (The Bridge) on 1400 Noble Street in downtown Anniston.

The proposed Birmingham Civil Rights National Historic Park public hearing will be held later in the day at Birmingham’s Historic 16th Street Baptist Church, 1530 6th Ave. North. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

For additional information, visit the following websites:

Freedom Riders Park website

National Civil Rights Park in Birmingham – petition

Anniston Star – Federal Officials to Visit Anniston

al.com – Birmingham getting closer to national park designation for Civil Rights Historic District

 

 

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.