New Bill Would Make Birmingham Civil Rights District a National Park

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The 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of a 1963 bombing, is part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, designated by President Obama on Thursday.

Federal and state leaders from Alabama announced a bill Tuesday that would designate Birmingham’s historic Civil Rights District as a National Park.

Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell stood alongside Birmingham Mayor William Bell to introduce the bi-partisan legislation at the National Press Club in Washington.

“The historic Civil Rights District in Birmingham holds so many stories of the journey from what was once regarded as one of the most segregated cities in America to the Magic City that it is today,” Sewell says.

Birmingham’s Civil Rights District includes the 16th St. Baptist Church, where a bombing in 1963 killed four young girls. Other historic landmarks include Kelly Ingram Park, where iconic images show police attacking protestors with fire hoses and police dogs. Sculptures throughout the park depict these violent clashes.

In a speech following the announcement, Bell expressed sympathy for the incidents that happened today in Belgium.

“On a day like today when you see such tragedies that have occurred over in Brussels and other places all over the world, sometimes we think that things will never change. But Birmingham represents that change can come. And we need to share that message with the rest of the world,” Bell says.

The National Park Designation could be a boon to the city’s economy, Sewell adds.