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Birmingham Civil Rights District supporters march for new national park

Supporters hope President Obama approves the proposal for a new national monument before leaving office in January.

Last Sunday, preservationists and locals marched through Birmingham, Alabama, in support of a new Birmingham Civil Rights Historical Park. Walking from the A.G. Gaston Motel, a pioneering black-owned business and meeting place for leaders of the civil rights movement, to Kelly Ingram Park, supporters pressed for adoption of federal legislation to create this unique urban national park.

The evening's event, which included a concert at Kelly Ingram Park, was held on the 53rd anniversary of the March on Washington. Advocates for the park have sought to promote the concept before the end of President Obama's final term in office. Recent decisions, such as creating a new national monument in Maine and designating the Stonewall Inn in New York as a national monument, have secured President Obama's status as a conservationist as well as a historical preservationist focused on the history of labor and civil rights movements. Supporters believe this urban monument to the civil rights movement is a no-brainer.

Local representatives, including U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL), who introduced legislation supporting the formation of the park, as well as Mayor William Bell, spoke about how this park would help preserve Birmingham’s heritage, as well as support the city’s burgeoning downtown development with a new national tourist draw. Preservationists, including Brent Leggs, Senior Field Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation, which placed the A.G. Gaston Motel on its recent list of most endangered historical places, also spoke.