July 10 Deadline to Submit Concepts for Civil Rights Monument

By Michael Sznajderman
Alabama News Center

The National Park Service (NPS) wants to hear your vision and ideas as it moves forward in developing plans for the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

July 10th is the last day to comment as Park Service officials delve into developing a General Management Plan (GMP) for the monument, which includes some of the most important and iconic structures involved in the struggle for equal rights are linked in Birmingham and which led to groundbreaking federal civil rights laws in the 1960s. The memorial was created in 2017 in one of the last acts of outgoing President Barack Obama.

One of the central structures within the memorial footprint is the long-closed AG Gaston Motel, in which civil rights activists, including the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and Ralph Abernathy held strategic meetings to reduce segregation in the city.

The motel was built by the black businessman and millionaire AG Gaston and was considered one of the best public accommodation and restaurants for blacks in town. The structure is undergoing a dramatic restoration as part of the monument planning, but many details have yet to be finalized with public engagement.

NPS officials recently held two virtual public sessions to gather input and feedback on the original plans. They are asking more people to consider ideas for the memorial, Gaston Motel restoration, and topics such as parking, interpretive exhibits, location of a visitor center, transportation between sites, and staff.

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

Other downtown attractions that are part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument include the 16th Street Baptist Church, St. Paul United Methodist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the enclosed Colored Masonic Temple “On Fourth Avenue North. which is to be renovated. Also an integral part of the memorial is the Bethel Baptist Church in the Collegeville neighborhood, where Shuttlesworth was pastor.

The National Park Service will use the feedback to develop more specific plans that are expected to be ready for another round of public comment later this year or early next year. Valet parking officials hope parts of the monument can be put into operation before the 2022 World Games hit the city next summer.

NPS officials also take comments via email. Send 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.

Further information can be found at www.nps.gov/bicr/

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