50 year celebration; Birmingham partners with UAB to commemorate the Civil Rights events

By on January 8, 2013

At a UAB press conference last month, Birmingham Mayor William Bell joined UAB Interim President Richard Marchase to announce a partnership in “50 Years Forward,” a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.

Birmingham celebrates the 50th year anniversary since the Civil Rights Movement. This statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. is located in Kelly Ingram Park. Daniel Twieg/Photo Editor

The city of Birmingham and UAB have organized a series of events throughout 2013 to observe the monumental anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.

“It is our honor to join together with others to mark the enduring legacy of this incredible and now-storied struggle to achieve equality– and to do so in a way that looks to the future,” said Marchase.

In the press conference, Mayor Bell shared details about upcoming events and collaborative efforts between the city of Birmingham and UAB.

The events include the annual Martin Luther King Holiday tribute concert at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, “Reflect & Rejoice,” a performance at the Bartow Arena by Common, hip-hop artist and the founder of the Common Ground Foundation, and more.

“The City of Birmingham is proud to have UAB as a leadership partner in ‘50 Years Forward’…Here, on what is one of our nation’s most diverse campuses, the commemoration of the events of 1963 takes on a special meaning,” said Bell.

Mayor Bell noted that in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the four girls were taken to the UAB emergency room for care, thus illustrating the bond between UAB and the Civil Rights Movement.

“Here at UAB…a hospital, cafeterias, and academic programs were integrated deftly and without violence,” said Bell.

UAB student organizations, such as the Black Student Awareness Committee (BSAC), are also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.

“The BSAC is committed to providing students the opportunity to learn about the events that are being hosted by the city of Birmingham because students need to share in the rich heritage of the city. Birmingham is truly a historic city that created tremendous controversy and adversity and came out as a strong arm through it all,” said Whitney Dumas, Chair of BSAC.

Ongoing events in Birmingham’s “50 Years Forward” celebration include tours given by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, 4th Avenue Business District, Bethel Baptist Church, and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame at the Carver Theatre.

Some of these institutions and historical landmarks, such as the 16th Street Baptist Church, are memorable for the violent outbreaks that resulted from racial discrimination while others, such as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, are notable for outlining a new direction for the future.

“Birmingham was in the middle of that dark time because a lot of terrible things happened here in 1963. Bombings, murders, marches, and the dedication of people who desired change must be commemorated and remembered. The focus on Birmingham here in 2013 is the same focus that was here in 1963; the only difference is there is a positive focus after 50 long years,” said Dumas.

UAB’s partnership with the city in the “50 Years Forward” initiative is intended to promote historical perseverance, celebrate racial and cultural diversity, and strengthen community involvement.

“As we participate throughout the coming year in an ongoing celebration of the strength and determination of those who made progress possible, we do so as an institution committed to service, to excellence, to diversity, and to community involvement,” said Marchase.

UAB has launched a website that outlines initiative highlights.

Kaylyn Alexander
Staff Writer

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