Thousands of shoes are worn out every year hiking the trails in the American National Park System, and camping generates about five billion dollars every year, but the National Park system doesn’t just protect wildlife and nature. The Birmingham Civil Rights District could very soon become a national park.
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis recently visited Birmingham and Anniston in order to tour famous historic sites associated with the civil rights movement.
Indeed, the time has come for Birmingham to take its “rightful place as a city that was pivotal to the civil rights movement,” as U.S. Representative Terri Sewell said. President Obama is expected to name the Birmingham Civil Rights District a national monument before he leaves office.
“The story of Birmingham is the story of America. It is the story of struggle. It is the story of survival,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell.
The national monument designation would have far-reaching economic implications for the area — according to the National Park Sevice, for every dollar invested in national parks, there is $10 generated in economic activity.
During a community meeting at the 16th Street Baptist Church, where they discuss the plans to turn the historic district into a national park, Jewell said “We do believe there is a story here that needs to be told, not just nationally but internationally as well.”
Should the area actually achieve monument status, the park service would hold more meetings to find out just how the community would want to do and “and what we need to do to tell this broader civil rights story for the future,” Jewell said.