Students tour Alabama’s African American Heritage Sites with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute with an eye on preserving them

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Students from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s (BCRI) Legacy Youth Leadership Program at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Photo courtesy of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Twenty students in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s (BCRI) Legacy Youth Leadership Program returned last week from a three-day tour in Alabama of historical sites critical to the African American community between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights era through today.

Photo courtesy of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The students visited sites as part of the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium (AAACRHSC), which is managed by the BCRI.

The Consortium is a collaboration among 20 historic places of worship, lodging and civic engagement that played significant roles in the African American struggle for freedom.

“Today’s trip made me think about parallels. Parallels between the softened narrative of these events and the manipulation of stories today. Today’s visits made me think, and my main conclusion is this: the devil is in the details; recalling yesterday without error is imperative to the positive change of tomorrow.” -Amrita Arora, BCRI Legacy Youth Leadership Program student

While recent history focuses on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, these institutions have been dedicated to improving the quality of black life since Reconstruction.

Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites

Photo courtesy of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The sites toured by the students included:

Brown Chapel AME Church
Safe House Black History Museum
Dexter Avenue Parsonage
Harris House
Ben Moore Hotel, and more.

The students also visited the new Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Here is a video produced by BCRI describing all 20 sites:

World Monuments Fund Watch List

The Consortium was launched in January 2017 when the BCRI nominated the sites to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) Watch List.

In 2018, the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites were added to the watch list – along with 25 other global cultural heritage sites.

“The AAACRHSC Project is one of the best projects I’ve seen. It’s efforts to preserve and eventually showcase sites which may be the lesser known but are the greatest landmarks or institutions that had a direct impact of the history of this nation and world, is a grand but worthy undertaking.” – A. Michelle Craig, Director of Youth Programs, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The sites are sustained through the passion, commitment and herculean efforts of dedicated volunteers who are committed to preserving not only these historic properties but their important stories. Taken together, these sites provide a historical, social and cultural context for the movement that changed our state, nation and world.

Photo courtesy of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Photo courtesy of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Through BCRI’s Legacy Youth Leadership Program tour of the sites, the students were given the opportunity to meet these extraordinary local volunteers, see firsthand the Alabama Civil Rights Heritage sites and learn what they can do collectively to preserve these special places.

Learn More

Are you interested in the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites and BCRI’s Legacy Youth Leadership Program? Visit the Consortium and Legacy Youth Leadership website to learn how you can get involved.

Links to pages on their website (Include
https://www.bcri.org/for-children/ (Legacy Youth Leadership Program)
https://www.bcri.org/consortium/ (Consortium)

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute table. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Established 25 years ago, the mission of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future. Become a member today.

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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.