The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, also known as the” BRCI” is a modern museum that serves as a major connection to several key historical sites.
These sites include the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument as well as a collection of sites that were paramount to the Civil Rights Movement.
It is a very large interpretive museum as well as a research center that helps to cover and explain the struggles and events that led up to and were included in the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
It is located off of old US Highway 78, at 520 16th Street North in Birmingham Alabama.
It is opened Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM, and on Sunday from 1 PM to 5 PM.
The location of this historic museum makes it one of the best of all of the Birmingham day trips.
Located in the Civil Rights District, it encompasses the historic 16th Street Baptist Church, as well as the Kelly Ingram Park.
It also includes the Fourth Avenue Business District, and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
It was opened in the year 1992, and had more than 25,000 visitors it first week.
Richly detailed and vibrant exhibits in the Institute lets the visitor see slices of black and white life in Alabama, from the late 1800’s to the present.
There is a series of galleries that tells the stories of how daily life was for the average African-American in the state, as well as the nation.
It also helps to show how dramatically different the lives of white people were compared to blacks, and how that particular era simply took it for granted.
The Powerful Movement Gallery presents the Civil Rights Movement for the years 1956 through 1963.
With this gallery a picture begins to emerge of the “bad old days ‘of Bombingham”
This is a reference to the horrible events as well as the relentless violence that rocked this city from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
The numerous exhibits found in this wonderful Institute lets the visitors share a rendition of how segregated the city actually was in the 1950’s
Because of the time that has passed, most people have forgotten just how bad it actually was, but these exhibits bring it back to life.
There is a replica of the Freedom Riders bus as well as the jail cell door that from behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the infamous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”.
It is also home to a huge and expansive archive of documents from the Civil Rights Movement, as well as nearly 500 recorded oral histories relevant to the period.
In addition, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute also has traveling exhibitions on the Freedom rides and the Selma to Montgomery March.
It also has traveling exhibitions on the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Elder Grace, and lesbian families during the Deep South troubled periods.
The Museum also hosts annual celebrations of landmark dates including Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as well as Black History Month.
For all intents and purposes, it is a “living institution” which displays the lessons of the past as a positive way to bring change to the present and the future.
The museum is an affiliate in the Smithsonian Affiliations program, and through this program, the museum can acquire long term loans.
It has also hosted the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service of “Let Your Motto Be Resistance”.
These archives have grown to become a national resource for both educators as well as researchers.
They are also a depository for the collection and preservation of civil right documents and artifacts.
The archival information system is computer linked to the Birmingham Public Library, and is a vital component of the Archives Division.
The museum is also a member of the North American Reciprocal Museums program.
On May 24, 2013, Presided Barrack Obama signed into law HR 360 for the 113th United Sates Congress.
This bill awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to several people including Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.
This award commemorated their lives that were lost over 50 years ago in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
The gold medal was given to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to display, or loan out to other museums.
Because of the museum’s rich history, this is yet another reason in should be on your list of Birmingham day trips.
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