The national monument encompasses historic sites downtown that were significant to the revolution that took place in the streets of Birmingham in the 1960s. One of those sites is the city’s most famous civil rights landmark, the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Included in the national monument district is Birmingham’s Bethel Baptist Church, credited with shaping the Civil Rights Movement here. Civil rights legend, the Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, was pastor of Bethel Baptist from 1953 through 1961. The church often served as a gathering place for discussions of civil rights among blacks, gatherings that angered white supremacists. In 1958, Bethel Baptist was bombed, though the church was empty at the time. The bombing cemented Shuttlesworth’s fiery determination to bring Birmingham to the center of the Civil Rights Movement.
The national monument includes Kelly Ingram Park. The park served as a congregating area for demonstrations in the early 1960s, including the ones in which police dogs and fire hoses were turned on marchers by Birmingham police. Images of those attacks haunted Birmingham in the decades that followed, but they were the same images that were instrumental in overturning legal segregation.