The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is the top must-do activity in this Alabama city with a complicated history. The Civil Rights Era in Birmingham was filled with violence and in turn was given the nickname Bombingham. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a fantastic display of history of the area during that tumultuous time. It is well-worth a few hours of your time to become more informed in hopes that we learn from past mistakes so history will not be repeated.
After paying the $15 admission for adults (seniors, children discounts), greeters meet all visitors and give a quick overview of the institute and their experiences in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Era before ushering guests into a short film of the beginnings of Birmingham.
After the movie, visitors are free to roam the museum. Pictures are not allowed in many of the exhibits. Photographs, interactive displays, television and radio shows at the time, and newspapers tell the story of both black and white, famous and non-famous people of the time.
At the end of our self-guided tour we came upon the saddest, most horrific part of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute- the crimes against children. Across the street from the Civil Rights Institute is the 16th Street Baptist Church, the site of a bombing killing 4 little girls attending Bible study. After visiting the Institute make sure to cross the street to pay your respects and reflect on the 4 girls.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is not unlike the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, where is it a lot for a person to take in. Take a few moments to visit the pretty, green town square, Kelly Ingram Park, next to both locations. The ice cream truck and its musical greeting along with all the schoolchildren running around, lift the mood.
Our afternoon in Birmingham was educational and emotional but part of traveling is learning and growing and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute certainly does make a person think and reflect. If you find yourself in Birmingham make sure to take a few hours to stop here.
Reader Question: Have you ever been to a museum or place that makes you sad?