It might be an understatement to say that Birmingham, Alabama, has played a significant role in America’s Civil Rights history. There are places in the city (which has been my home on two different occasions) where reminders of tragedies and triumphs are literally across the street from each other. That’s the case downtown at the intersection of 16th Street North and 6th Avenue North, where you can find the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, and 16th Street Baptist Church occupying three of its corners.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute features an abundance of historical information and fantastic displays depicting the city’s Civil Rights history.
The Institute has an impressive educational area (partly seen in the photo above), and there were several school-aged children interacting with the exhibits while I was there. Instead of taking a lot of photos of the permanent collection, I chose simply to look and learn. However, the Institute’s website offers a link to a virtual tour of the facility’s permanent collection.
The BCRI is mindful that it’s right across the way from 16th Street Baptist Church, where four girls died when the church was bombed during Sunday morning worship services in September 1963. Even the BCRI’s windows bring today’s church into the exhibition area.
Here are a few photos of the church from outside. (Note: some of the following photos were taken during a visit to this area last summer.)
Located on the corner diagonally from the church, Kelly Ingram Park is forever linked to images of Civil Rights demonstrators enduring high pressure fire hoses, police dogs, and mass arrests in May 1963. Formerly known as West Park, it serves today as a reminder of those times.