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Explore Birmingham

Birmingham Educational Tours

Birmingham played a prominent role in America’s Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. A visit to this city provides special insight for those learning about the intense struggle for racial equality that has shaped the United States as we know it today.

Birmingham Overview

The city of Birmingham is the largest and perhaps best-known city in the state of Alabama. A visually distinctive feature is the 55-foot-tall statue of Vulcan situated on Red Mountain overlooking the city. Built entirely from cast iron, Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and the forge, represents Birmingham’s roots in the iron and steel industry. Once characterized as the iron and steel center of the South because of its abundant sources of coal, limestone, and iron ore, Birmingham became a central location of civil rights demonstrations and voter-registration drives led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and others during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. 

By visiting Birmingham, students learning about the Civil Rights Movement find opportunities to walk in the footsteps of the men and women who fought for racial justice and equality. For example, students can tour Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the first black church in Birmingham. This church became central to the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a frequent speaker here. In September of 1963, the church was the target of a racially motivated bombing that killed four girls. Another important stop is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which serves as a cultural and educational research center promoting a comprehensive understanding and appreciation for the significance of civil rights developments in Birmingham. 

Like many Southern cities, music is a central aspect of Birmingham’s history and culture. The city has an opera company, a symphony orchestra, and theatre and ballet groups. The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization that shares the stories of the musicians who have shaped the art of jazz music. In addition to a museum, The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame holds performance events at the historic Carver Theatre and offers educational programs.

Living Legacy Project

“The Living Legacy Project’s vision is a just and equitable world free from racism and other systems of oppression.

Mindful of this vision, the Living Legacy Project’s mission is to provide experiential education about the American Civil Rights Movement that challenges, inspires, and equips people from diverse backgrounds and identities for justice work in their communities and beyond.”

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

“The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is a cultural and educational research center that promotes a comprehensive understanding for the significance of civil rights developments in Birmingham. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2022, BCRI reaches more than 150,000 individuals each year though award-winning programs and services. The mission of BCRI is to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.”