of his final acts as president, Barack Obama signed a proclamation naming the
Birmingham Civil Rights District a national monument.
national monument encompasses historic sites in the downtown district that were
significant to the revolution that took place in the streets of Birmingham in
the 1960s. One of those sites is the city’s most famous civil rights
landmark, the 16th Street Baptist Church. In the basement of
the church on a September Sunday morning in 1963, a dynamite bomb set by Ku
Klux Klansmen ripped through the side of the church killing four
African-American schoolgirls. Killed in the bombing were 11-year-old Denise
McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins, all 14 years
bombing horrified the nation and the world and was a turning point in race
relations in the country.
national monument designation is expected to bring additional national and
international attention to Birmingham’s pivotal role in America’s Civil Rights
Movement. The designation will also bring more than $1.5 million in
grants from the National Park Service.
Included in the national monument district is Birmingham’s Bethel
Baptist Church, credited with shaping the Civil Rights Movement here.