Obama Announces New National Monuments

Associated Press

Alabama’s downtown section, including the church where four Black girls were murdered in a Ku Klux Klan bombing in 1963, has been declared a national monument by the President.

The 16th Street Baptist Church will be the focal point of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historic Park. The bombing, which also injured 22 people, was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.

Obama signed the order Thursday, a week before the end of his administration. In it, he also designated two other sites central to the civil rights struggle as national monuments.

In a White House statement, Obama said he was seeking to “preserve critical chapters of our country’s history, from the Civil War to the civil rights movement.  These monuments preserve the vibrant history of the Reconstruction Era and its role in redefining freedom.”

Anniston, Alabama’s, new Freedom Riders National Monument includes the Greyhound Bus station where a bus carrying a group of activists was attacked in 1961. The Reconstruction Era National Monument commemorating a post-Civil War community of freed slaves will also be established in Beaufort County, South Carolina.

“These new national monuments honor the pivotal role and enduring legacy of the civil rights movement and the era of Reconstruction in our nation’s history,” the National Trust for Historic Preservation said in an emailed statement sent to “They illuminate our long and continuing march towards racial justice in America.”

Read the president’s full announcing the national monuments here.