US Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson and filmmaker Spike Lee visited Birmingham and spoke at separate events last weekend on the 60th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Sept 25, 2023) – A year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Birmingham Civil Rights campaign reached a crescendo recently with multiple events honoring the cultural revolution of 1963, as well as highlighting aspects of present-day Birmingham’s Civil Rights District.
On Friday, Sept. 15, United States Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson, the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke at the memorial service honoring the 60th anniversary of the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church. Birmingham also welcomed Academy and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee for a screening of his film, “4 Little Girls,” at Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema. After the film, Lee joined Civil Rights foot soldiers Dr. Carolyn McKinstry, Lisa McNair, and Charles Morgan III for a panel discussion on where Birmingham finds itself 60 years later.
Both events attracted media coverage of Birmingham from across the country. For more on the memorial service and Justice Brown-Jackson’s speech, pieces can be found in the New York Times and on CNN. Additional coverage of the weekend’s events can be found on NPR, Good Morning America, Reckon, and Fox News.
The City of Birmingham also signed a friendship pact with the United Kingdom nation of Wales last week. 60 years ago, the news of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing grabbed the world’s attention, including Welsh students that contributed money to replace the stained-glass window in the church that was blown out in the bombing. Mayor Randall Woodfin and Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Minister of the Economy, unveiled a new plaque and planted four new trees in Kelly Ingram Park dedicated to the victims of the 1963 bombing, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carol Robertson, and Cinthia Wesley. Visit AL.com for more information on the pact.
Thanks to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and various other partners, Birmingham City School students attended an event at the Institute centered around the children’s book The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963. The critically acclaimed novel’s author, Christopher Paul Curtis, attended and spoke to the students to start the day before students got to partake in hands-on, curriculum-based activities to learn more about the events of 60 years ago.
The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau has commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Birmingham Civil Rights Campaign through a campaign honoring the history, progress and impact of the events of 1963. The campaign, which has been running throughout the year to encourage visitors from around the world to travel to Birmingham to experience the city’s Civil Rights history, included a website (60.birminghamal.org), custom Civil Rights-themed visitor itineraries, special events with community partners, regional advertising, and more. In April, the GBCVB also unveiled a custom-designed, Birmingham Civil Rights-branded motorcoach that has since been traveling the country, serving as a nationwide commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Birmingham Civil Rights Campaign and encouraging people around the United States to visit Birmingham.
“Visitors from all over the globe travel to Birmingham to learn and reflect on what happened here in 1963,” said John Oros, president & CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Today, and every day, we must continue to remember those who participated in changing our history, and honor how they changed the lives of so many future generations by giving them the priceless gift of hope. This campaign is an opportunity to share that message across the country.”
Visit Birmingham they did, as in August the GBCVB helped host the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) annual convention and career fair, which brought nearly 4,000 Black journalists from across the country to the Magic City. While in town, many took the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights District to learn more about the city’s history and growth. Read more about the NABJ event.
Each year, more than 100,000 visitors from around the world visit the Birmingham Civil Rights District, designated a National Monument by President Barack Obama. The District’s key landmarks, which tell the stories of the city’s pivotal role in desegregating the American South, include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, A.G. Gaston Motel, Historic Bethel Baptist Church, the Fourth Avenue Historic District and the Colored Masonic Temple.
About the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau (GBCVB) is the official tourism and marketing organization for Birmingham and Jefferson County. Established in 1969, the non-profit agency generates positive economic impact by positioning the greater Birmingham area as a premier destination for conventions, sporting events, and domestic and international leisure travel. Named one of Conde Nast Traveler’s “22 Best Places to Go in 2022,” Birmingham and its neighboring municipalities welcome more than 3.6 million visitors each year, generating $2.2 billion in economic impact.