Civil Conversations: Day 4, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Students explore Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church and historic Kelly Ingram Park

Elliot Adams (He/Him)

More stories from Elliot Adams (He/Him)


Elliot Adams (He/Him)

Statue of Martin Luther King Jr. in historic Kelly Ingram Park.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute sits in the Civil Rights District between the 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Ala.

This district was scene to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing which claimed the lives of four young church goers on Sep. 15, 1963. Kelly Ingram Park was scene to the Children’s Crusade on May 2-3, 1963 that was violently broken up by Birmingham police and firefighters. 

According to the BCRI, their mission is to, “enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.” 

The BCRI looms over the surrounding area, which allows University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire visitors to physically see the 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park through windows while touring the exhibits. 

Katelin Nelson, a third-year secondary English education student, said that the location of the museum was very effective.

“All the museums we’ve been to are so strategically placed and I think that’s what makes this museum so effective is the fact that it was made right there in this historical park, the Baptist church and everything was right there.” 

Karen Rose, a third-year secondary English education student, also said that the placement of the BCRI benefited her experience. 

“There’s a part where you can hear the stories of the people who were there, and the places are right outside the window.”

The BCRI houses several exhibits that chronicle the role that Birmingham played in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. 

These exhibits show the history of Birmingham’s beginning as a reconstruction industrial city, the segregation and disparity during the Jim Crow era and the city’s role in the Civil Rights Movement. 

Nelson said that the BCRI helped her appreciate the human cost of the Civil Rights Movement and the bravery that foot soldiers had in the Civil Rights Movement. 

According to Nelson, she felt a “sense of hope” when exposed to several scenes of members of the Civil Rights Movement overcoming oppression in both Birmingham and the rest of the U.S. as a whole.

“There’s always hope and that’s what I felt throughout the museum,” Nelson said. “It was a really humbling experience in my opinion.”

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