As one of the last acts of his presidency, President Obama today proclaimed two places in Alabama as National Monuments, establishing the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and the Anniston Freedom Riders National Monument.
President Obama used the authority given to him by the Antiquities Act, to make the presidential proclamation, which enables him to establish national monuments on federal lands, in order to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features.
Along with the President’s proclamation, it was announced that the 16th Street Baptist Church will receive a $500,000 grant for preservation, repair and restoration and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute will receive a $47,000 grant for preservation leadership training at the Gaston Motel. The City of Anniston will also receive a grant of nearly a half a million dollars for the Freedom Riders Monument.
What makes today’s historic proclamation all the more remarkable has been the universal enthusiastic support both monuments have received from the entire Alabama Congressional delegation, local public officials and their communities.
Alabamians were united. That is something to celebrate too!
Here is the statement from the White House:
Statement by the President on Designating Monuments Honoring Civil Rights History
Today, I am designating new national monuments that preserve critical chapters of our country’s history, from the Civil War to the civil rights movement.
These monuments preserve the vibrant history of the Reconstruction Era and its role in redefining freedom.
They tell the important stories of the citizens who helped launch the civil rights movement in Birmingham and the Freedom Riders whose bravery raised national awareness of segregation and violence. These stories are part of our shared history. From designating Stonewall National Monument, our country’s first national monument honoring the LGBT movement, to recognizing the movement for women’s equality through the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, I have sought to build a more inclusive National Park System and ensure that our national parks, monuments and public lands are fully reflective of our nation’s diverse history and culture.
I am also expanding existing areas for some of our country’s treasured and historic natural resources in Oregon and California today, including stretches of California’s scenic coast and unique wildlife habitat in rugged mountain ranges and forests in Oregon and California.
Over the last 8 years, I have sought to work with local communities, Tribal governments, businesses, sportsmen, members of Congress and others to protect the most important public lands for the benefit of future generations. Today’s actions will help ensure that more of our country’s history will be preserved and celebrated, and that more of our outdoors will be protected for all to experience.
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. View all posts by Pat Byington