The Alabama African-American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium (managed by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute) is a collaboration among 20 historic places of worship, lodging and civic engagement that played significant roles in the African-American struggle for freedom. While recent history focuses on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, these institutions have been dedicated to improving the quality of black life since Reconstruction. The Consortium was launched in January 2017 when the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute nominated the sites to the World Monuments Watch, WMF’s biennial program that partners with local stakeholders to use heritage conservation to empower communities. From that nomination, the Consortium evolved from a shared belief that there is strength in unity.
Following inclusion on the Watch, the Consortium identified documentation of aging foot soldiers’ oral histories of the sites as a most critical need, leading to the funding and creation of Voices of Alabama.
Recognizing their shared history, goals and mission, representatives from these sites have participated in joint meetings and needs assessments to set the agenda for ongoing work. The Consortium sites are sustained through the passion, commitment and herculean efforts of dedicated volunteers who are committed to preserving not only these historic properties but their important stories. Taken together, these sites provide a historical, social and cultural context for the movement that changed our state, nation and world. Moving forward, the Consortium will work with each site to assure that its legacy is preserved for today and future generations.