Birmingham Civil Rights Institute#4 in Best Things To Do in Birmingham
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute presents the moving story of the city's role in the civil rights movement, focusing not just on the past, but also on the continuing international struggle for human rights through permanent and temporary galleries. Exhibits detail some of the most significant events in Birmingham's history, including the tragic loss of life at the 16th Street Baptist Church during a bombing orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan.
Most visitors call this museum a moving experience and a wonderful way to learn about the civil rights movement and its impact on our nation. Although the museum is family-friendly, some say the Confrontation Gallery (where visitors hear recorded voices of children and adults – both black and white – sharing sentiments they would only say behind closed doors) is disturbing and very emotional. Many recommend combining a visit to the institute with a walking tour of the downtown Civil Rights District.
You'll find the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in downtown Birmingham, across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church. Tours are available Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission costs $15 for adults and $5 for children in fourth through 12th grade. Free parking is available behind the building. See the website for directions and more information on upcoming exhibits.
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#1 Civil Rights District
To learn more about Birmingham's role in the civil rights movement, plan a visit to the Civil Rights District. This six-block area in downtown Birmingham encompasses several historic sites, including the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the A.G. Gaston Gardens and the Fourth Avenue Business District, among other points of interest.
Perhaps the most significant site is Kelly Ingram Park, which played host to civil rights rallies, demonstrations and confrontations in the 1960s, including the Children's Crusade. You can take a self-led walking tour through the park to learn about the notable protesters and the significant incidents of this turbulent time in the city's history, detailed by markers along the Freedom Walk route. The park is also home to the Four Spirits statues, which honor the four African American girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. To fully experience the walk, you can access a free audio tour from your cell phone by calling 205-307-5455.
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