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Birmingham Civil Rights District Named National Monument

14 January 2017

Separately, the president expanded the inland Cascade-Siskouyou National Monument on both sides of the Oregon-California border by 48,000 acres, protecting the unique ecological features of that region over the objections of some residents. All three sites will be protected under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Aside from the Grand Canyon, other national monuments include the Petrified Forest in Arizona; Muir Woods in California; and New York's Stonewall Inn, where the modern movement for gay rights began in 1969. And it includes the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where four girls died in 1963 after the Ku Klux Klan detonated 19 sticks of dynamite outside the church basement. The monument is being established on the site of a mob attack on two buses full of Freedom Riders on Mother's Day 1961, a crime that helped to stoke national opposition to Jim Crow injustices.

The third civil rights monument has several sites in Beaufort, South Carolina, where emancipated slaves created a community during the Reconstruction era.

"This enlargement of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument will maintain its diverse array of natural and scientific resources and preserve its cultural and historic legacy, ensuring that the scientific and historic values of this area remain for the benefit of all Americans", Obama said in his proclamation.

Obama has now created or expanded 34 national monuments, according to the Washington Post, two more than the famous conservationist president Franklin D. Roosevelt. He noted that the monument's interpretive center will be in Darrah Hall, the oldest building on Penn Center's campus, and will also include the Brick Baptist Church, "built in 1855 by slaves who were relegated to its balcony out of the sight and presence of white worshipers". The monument will also highlight the significance of other nearby sites, such as Kelly Ingram Park, where Bull Connor, then Birmingham's public safety commissioner, turned hoses and dogs on civil rights protesters. I was honored to introduce HR 4817, the bi-partisan legislation, that made the legislative case for creating the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. "Especially for black Americans, there's no better time than right now for all to appreciate the importance of this new monument".

The 16 Street Baptist Church will be the focal point of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park.

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Agency employees will be now based in the district, which also becomes eligible for federal funding.

"For a long time, this period of history has been ignored and is often misunderstood or misrepresented", he said in his statement".

The Improved National Monument Designation Process Act would require local input and state approval before the executive branch could designate national monuments on federal lands and waters. Environmental rights groups, however, applauded the expansions as a means to preserve these areas' exceptional biodiversity.

Democrats representing the affected areas had pressed Obama to expand the monuments.