July 10 deadline to submit ideas for a civil rights monument


By Michael Sznajderman
Alabama Press Center

The National Park Service (NPS) is interested in hearing your vision and ideas as they move forward with the development of plans for the Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument.

July 10 is the last day to submit comments as Park Service officials deepen the development of a General Management Plan (GMP) for the monument, which encompasses some of the most important and iconic structures related to the struggle. for equal rights in Birmingham, and which led to historic federal civil rights legislation in the 1960s. The monument was created in 2017 in one of the last acts by outgoing President Barack Obama.

One of the central structures inside the monument’s footprint is the long-shuttered AG Gaston Motel, where civil rights leaders, including reverends. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy held strategic meetings around efforts to dismantle segregation in the city.

Built by black businessman and millionaire AG Gaston, the motel was considered one of the best public accommodation and food establishments for blacks in the city. The structure is undergoing a spectacular restoration as part of the plans for the monument, but most details remain to be determined, with input from the public.

NPS officials recently held two virtual town halls to gather feedback and feedback on the initial plans. They urge more people to weigh in with ideas for the monument, the Gaston Motel restoration, and issues such as parking, interpretive exhibits, the location of a visitor center, transportation between sites and the staff.

Learn more about the Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument at www.nps.gov/bicr/.

Other sites in the city center that are part of the Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument include the 16th Street Baptist Church, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the “Colored Masonic Temple” closed on North Fourth Avenue, which needs to be renovated. The Bethel Baptist Church in the Collegeville neighborhood, where Shuttlesworth was pastor, is also an integral part of the monument.

The National Park Service will use the comments to develop more specific plans that should be ready for another round of public comment at the end of this year or early next year. Park Service officials hope parts of the monument will be operational before the 2022 World Games arrive in the city next summer.

NPS officials will also accept comments by mail. Send your comments to: Superintendent Kristofer Butcher, Attn: Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument General Management Plan, National Park Service, 1914 Fourth Ave. N., Suite 440, Birmingham, AL 35203.

To learn more, visit www.nps.gov/bicr/

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