The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s was a defining time in our nation’s history, with the south playing a major role. Birmingham, Alabama being very much included.

Birmingham, Alabama
Photo by James Willamor on Flickr
Birmingham, Alabama
Photo by James Willamor on Flickr

Birmingham is a city rich in cultural history for both the Civil Rights Movement and our nation as a whole. The city has no shortage of sites to visit to remember and honor those who fought for civil rights.

We’ve picked out four of the biggest players, but we recommend looking into any specific interests you may have when looking at civil rights associations in Birmingham as there are many other great locations.

1. 16th Street Baptist Church

16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham
Photo courtesy of Civil Rights Trail
16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham
Photo courtesy of Civil Rights Trail

During the 1960s, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was an organizational headquarters for leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. The church was the site of a bombing in 1963 that killed four young girls and injured 22 others. The church is now a National Historic Landmark and is on the UNESCO list of tentative World Heritage Sites.

2. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Photo courtesy of Civil Rights Trail
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Photo courtesy of Civil Rights Trail

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a Smithsonia affiliate. The museum portrays the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, with an emphasis on creating a better future. One of the museum’s highlights is a walking journey through the “living institution” that displays lessons of the past that we can learn from in present day.

3. Bethel Baptist Church

Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham
Photo courtesy of Civil Rights Trail
Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham
Photo courtesy of Civil Rights Trail

The Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham was the headquarters for the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) from 1956 to 1961. Led by Fred Shuttlesworth, the ACMHR focused on direct action against segregation that was legal and nonviolent. The church was bombed on three separate occasions in response to its involvement, in 1956, 1958, and 1962.

4. Kelly Ingram Park

Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham
Photo courtesy of Civil Rights Trail
Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham
Photo courtesy of Civil Rights Trail

The Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham is right across from the 16th Street Baptist Church. The park served as a site for large-scale demonstrations and protests during the Civil Rights Movement. There are multiple sculptures throughout the park honoring leaders and heroes from the Civil Rights Movement, but the most striking of these is The Four Spirits sculpture, a memorial to the four young girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.


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