These sites “preserve critical chapters of our country’s history, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement.”
The monuments were created to tell the stories of civil rights leaders from Birmingham and Freedom Riders whose bravery raised national awareness of segregation and violence.
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The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument includes the 16th Street Baptist Church, where four little girls died in a bombing set by a White supremacist in 1963, as well as the Kelly Ingram Park, where protesters were hosed down during the Civil Rights Movement.
The Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Alabama, includes the site of a former Greyhound bus station where members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) attacked protesters who demanded integration.
Lastly, the Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort, South Carolina will protect areas near the first site where “formerly enslaved people could begin integrating themselves into free society,” according to the White House.
“These monuments preserve the vibrant history of the Reconstruction Era and its role in redefining freedom,” said President Obama. All three sites will be protected under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
The President noted that through these monuments, he seeks to build a more inclusive National Park System and “ensure that our national parks, monuments and public lands are fully reflective of our nation’s diverse history and culture.”
“These stories are part of our shared history,” he continued.
National Parks Conservation Association Cultural Resources Director, Alan Spears, said of the monuments, "There was a time when we only focused on men on horseback, with swords. That was a different time. We've expanded the definition of what's important.”