Founded in 1871 as part of the post-Civil War Reconstruction efforts, Birmingham is a cornerstone of American history. Explore these five attractions to learn about Birmingham’s historical impact, which still affects our society today.
Civil Rights Institute
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Located in the Civil Rights District, a beautiful area of town with hotels and restaurants, the Civil Rights Institute chronicles the course of the Civil Rights movement from 1950 to 1960. This interactive museum offers informative, haunting exhibits about the country’s struggles from segregation to integration. The many displays use life-size models, historic recordings, and multimedia features to show how the battles of the past are relevant today. Museum tickets cost $15, and discounts are available for children and seniors.
Also in the Civil Rights District is the Jazz Hall of Fame. From the early days of boogie-woogie to the latest jazz fusion, you can explore how jazz is woven into all musical genres, including hip hop, alternative, and rock. The Jazz Hall of Fame is also dedicated to nurturing future musicians. It offers classes and seminars for jazz enthusiasts of all ages. Nothing brings the world together like music.
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Don’t miss your chance to visit the 16th Street Baptist Church in the Civil Rights District. Established in 1873, this was the first African-American church in Alabama. It was the central meeting place for leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and in May 1963, the church was the starting point for marches and demonstrations. The church is best known as the site of the bombing that killed four little African-American girls. The tragedy led to a massive backlash and sparked the passing of the Civil Rights Bill of 1963.
A short drive from the city you’ll find the largest aviation museum in the South. The 75,000-square-foot facility houses aircrafts, photos, and artifacts depicting the history of flight. You can sit in a World War II fighter jet or a modern-day A-12 Blackbird. The museum also explores the history of military flight, with exhibits from the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Tuskegee Airmen. Museum tickets cost $7, but all military personnel and their families can enter for free.
Sports Hall of Fame
Sports and athletes are as influential today as they were in the past. At the Sports Hall of Fame, you can learn more about Alabama’s contributions to the world of sports. The museum has over 5,000 pieces of memorabilia from athletes who were born in Alabama, attended school in Alabama, or otherwise impacted sports in Alabama. This organization also encourages higher education by offering sports awards and scholarships to local high school athletes.
On some vacations, you plan for relaxation, and on others, you plan to learn something. Birmingham, Alabama, might not be the sexiest of vacation spots, but the city’s importance to the development of the South is clear in its historical sites. A visit to these places will give you a historical perspective on the social climate of our country today.