On January 12, 2017, President Barack Obama has designated the Birmingham Civil Rights District and other locations in Alabama as national monuments.
Alabama was often the epicenter of civil rights activism and steadfast perseverance for African Americans during the 1960s. It is where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led his congregation and where four little girls were murdered and 22 citizens were injured when the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed. It is also where Dr. King and other activists planned the march on Washington, where he and others leaders like John Lewis were met with violence but ultimately claimed victory in the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965. And who could forget the powerful images of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963, where young, non-violent protesters were met with high-power water hoses, beaten with batons and threatened by police dogs?
Among the other distinguished sites that are now designated protected landmarks, President Obama has also included the Mississippi home of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, as well as sites like the Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston and Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham. “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,” said Obama.
Below is a selection of videos from our original series which include personal stories of those who were there during this period in American history: American Freedom Stories: Alabama. To watch all the videos from the series, please visit our YouTube channel.