Congresswoman Terri Sewell Introduces H.R. 4817 to Designate Birmingham’s Historic Civil Rights District as a National Park
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL-7) released the following statement to announce the filing of H.R. 4817, a bill to designate Birmingham’s Historic Civil Rights District as a National Park:
"I am proud to introduce this important, bi-partisan legislation that incorporates Birmingham's Historic Civil Rights sites into the National Park Service System,” states Representative Sewell. “With this designation, historic preservation efforts will be enhanced for these historic sites, greater economic revitalization will occur, and it will forever cement the pivotal role Birmingham played in the Civil Rights Movement."
“The Historic Civil Rights District in Birmingham holds many stories of the journey from what was regarded as one of the most segregated cities in the South to what Birmingham is today. The National Park designation will be a real tourism boost for Birmingham and will mean greater economic development for Alabama. The Birmingham Civil Rights District will include 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelley Ingram Park, A.G. Gaston Motel and other historic landmarks."
Several noteworthy stakeholders expressed their support for the bill:
"Sharing the Birmingham Civil Rights Story and legacy is paramount to the success of the City. We are thankful to Congresswoman Sewell for moving this legislation forward. This is an exciting time for our City," says Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama.
“As a gathering place for activists and leaders in the Civil Rights movement, the sites within the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park tell of the African-American fight for equality. The National Trust applauds Congresswoman Terri Sewell for her leadership in introducing this significant legislation, and proudly stands with Mayor William A. Bell and the City of Birmingham in supporting this effort to preserve not only the places but the history that happened in the thriving historic district. We urge the House of Representatives to quickly approve this legislation to ensure these places live on to benefit future generations of Americans and beyond,” states Tom Cassidy, vice president of Government Relations & Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Birmingham was one of the most heavily segregated cities in the United States in the 1960s. The non-violent protest marches in Birmingham in the spring of 1963 and the violent response they evoked from police and state and local officials drew national attention and helped to break the back of segregation in that city,” states Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. “We commend Representative Sewell for working to ensure these pivotal moments in the long struggle to bring equality and justice to all Americans will never be forgotten. The addition of a Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park would allow this important Civil Rights story to be told for generations to come.”
About the Proposed National Park Designation
The proposed Birmingham national park site would include 16th Street Baptist Church, A.G. Gaston Motel, Kelly Ingram Park, Bethel Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
The “National Historic Park” designation by the National Park Service (NPS) is defined as particularly notable because of its connection with events or people of historic interest. Such entities often extend beyond a single property or building. Many entities are not traditional “parks” in the sense of extensive green spaces, but are rather urban areas with a number of historically relevant buildings.