More than a half century after the marches and beatings, the bombings and speeches, the area around Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church (ground zero for the climactic battles of the American civil rights movement) is likely to become a national historic park. U.S. Representative Terri Sewell introduced the legislation last spring that would create the designation, solidifying the position of the Birmingham Civil Rights District as a place of major importance in the history of the United States. President Obama is expected to back the designation and sign it into law before he leaves office this month.
Following the national park designation, the Civil Rights Historic District will be staffed by park rangers and receive federal funding. The individual locations expected to be included in the designation are Kelly Ingram Park, the 16th Street Baptist Church, the A.G. Gaston Motel, the Birmingham Civil RIghts Institute, and Bethel Baptist Church.