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Birmingham Marks 50th Anniversary of Turbulent Civil Rights Summer of ’63

Birmingham made history in 1963, and in 2013 the Alabama city will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events that led to the 1964 Civil Rights Bill and the beginning of the end of racial segregation in the South.

In the summer of 1963, black residents held sit-ins at whites-only lunch counters to challenge Jim Crow laws. Black youth from area schools participating in what was known as the Children’s Crusade were arrested. Some were attacked with fire hoses and police dogs after taking to the streets. And on Sept. 15, 1963, a bomb planted by a Ku Klux Klansman in the 16th Street Baptist Church exploded, killing four black girls.

From the ashes and rubble of these devastating acts arose the passion and determination necessary to catapult the fight for equal rights for people of all races. All of it will be on display in 2013 as Birmingham honors the lessons learned from its past. Organizations and institutions throughout the city will tell stories of 1963 through art exhibits, theater productions, musical performances and more.

You can also visit sites that helped secure victory in the battle for civil rights.

“Birmingham is a beautiful city,” says a proud Janice Wesley Kelsey, who was a teenager who marched that summer. “I’ve visited many other places, but [my choice is] to remain where I am. I love where I live, and I want others to see it.”

Marching on

Begin your visit at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which features exhibits on the Civil Rights Movement and celebrates the accomplishments of blacks in Alabama.

From March 12 to Nov. 30, the institute will play host to Marching On: The Children’s Movement at Fifty. The exhibit tells the story of the Children’s Crusade of 1963 through people who participated, including Kelsey.

Read more: USAToday


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