Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church was featured in the New York Times travel section last Sunday in a list of 8 places across the U.S. that illuminate black history.
Because many culturally significant sites integral to black history have either disappeared or fallen into disrepair, the National Trust for the Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has contributed to the preservation of several historical landmarks including the 16th Street Baptist Church.
On September 15, 1963, Birmingham—and the world—were rocked by the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church by members of the KKK that killed four little girls attending Sunday school.
Now one of the most well-known civil rights-era sites in the United States, the church has since served as a host for civil rights meetings, rallies and human rights movements.
Hard work toward preservation
Since 1963, many efforts have been made toward the renovation and preservation of the church.
In 2017, the church received grants from both the National Trust for the Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and from the federal government, which established it as part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. The proclamation by President Obama included a $500,000 grant toward church rehabilitation efforts.
The year 2023 will mark 60 years since 1963– a pivotal year for Civil Rights–in which several historically significant events took place in Birmingham including:
- Martin Luther King Jr. writing “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
- Bombing of the A.G. Gaston Motel and the home of the Reverend A.D. King
- Children’s Crusade in which hundreds of black children were arrested for protesting
- Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church
According to the Birmingham City Council, the City of Birmingham– in partnership with area churches, arts organizations, activists, businesses and nonprofits– will honor the challenges, lessons and triumphs of the 1963 Birmingham civil and human rights movement during the entire year of 2023.
“The eyes of the world were on Birmingham in 1963 while a battle was waged for the equal rights of all of its residents. We plan to spend 2023 remembering and reflecting on the people and events that helped to break down segregation not only in Birmingham, but in our country.”Mayor Randall L. Woodfin
Other historical sites mentioned
The New York Times piece chronicled 7 additional sites of civil rights significance that were also grantees of the National Trust for the Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The other sites mentioned include:
- Buffalo Soliders National Museum in Houston, TX
- Louis Armstrong House in Queens, NY
- African American Heritage Trail in Martha’s Vineyard, MA
- Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC
- Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum in Lynchburg, VA
- Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park in Hilton Head, SC
- South Side Community Arts Center in Chicago, IL
How are you celebrating Black History Month in Birmingham? Tag us @BhamNow on Instagram + Facebook to let us know!