Commemorative Civil Rights bus unveiled at 16th St Baptist Church

bus1 Commemorative Civil Rights bus unveiled at 16th St Baptist Church
The unveiling of the new bus in front of 16th Street Baptist Church. (Pat Byington/ Bham Now)

Last week, the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau unveiled a new Civil Rights-branded motorcoach to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Birmingham Civil Rights Campaign.

The bus, which was unveiled at historic 16th Street Baptist Church, will soon begin traveling the country to inform and educate about the significance of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.

Commemorating the events of 1963

The year 2023 marks 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”
  • Children’s Crusade in which hundreds of black children were arrested for protesting
  • Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church
  • Bombing of the A.G. Gaston Motel and the home of the Reverend A.D. King

In a statement released by the visitors bureau, below are comments made by the event’s organizers and participants.

“Visitors from all over the globe travel to Birmingham to learn and reflect on what happened here in 1963. Today and every day, we must continue to remember those who participated in changing our history, and honor how they changed the lives of so many future generations by giving them the priceless gift of hope. This campaign is an opportunity to share that message across the country.”

John Oros, President and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau

Birmingham foot soldiers

bus2 edited scaled Commemorative Civil Rights bus unveiled at 16th St Baptist Church
Birmingham foot soldiers. (Pat Byington/ Bham Now)

In 1963, Dr. King’s protest campaign was headquartered in 16th Street Baptist Church, where protesters would come out in the late afternoon and march peacefully toward downtown. Foot soldiers from the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement were also in attendance for the unveiling, representing those who marched 60 years ago.

“60 years ago, more than 1,000 African American students left this church to march into downtown Birmingham. These brave foot soldiers heard the call from Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King, and SCLC organizer James Bevel, and marched for the right to live in a desegregated city. The Birmingham Civil Rights Activist Committee, home of the foot soldiers, joins with you in recognizing this momentous occasion – 60 years of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.”

Paulette Roby, Chairwoman of the Birmingham Civil Rights Activist Committee, and participant in the 1963 Children’s Campaign

Touring the country

bus3 Commemorative Civil Rights bus unveiled at 16th St Baptist Church
Walk in the footsteps. (Pat Byington/ Bham Now)

The 45-foot, 56-passenger bus will transport tour groups around the country through the end of the year, serving as a nationwide commemoration of the events of 1963 and encouraging people to visit Birmingham. It is part of a larger campaign by the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau to honor the history of Birmingham and the cultural revolution that took place in its streets 60 years ago.

“As this bus travels throughout the Unites States, we hope that it will remind some and inform others about what happened in Birmingham– because we know what happened here did indeed change the world. So, as we commemorate 1963, let us commit to forging justice in 2023.”

Denise Gilmore, Senior Director of the Division of Social Justice and Racial Equality for the city of Birmingham

In addition to the bus, campaign initiatives will include a microsite (, custom Civil Rights-themed visitor itineraries, special events in partnership with community partners and more according to the visitors bureau.

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Grace Howard
Grace Howard
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