Today, I went through the Birmingham Institute for Civil Rights. The Institute is located in downtown Birmingham, across the street from the Sixteenth Baptist Church (where antagonists to the Civil Rights Movement threw a firebomb into the church, killing four children, on September 16, 1963). As I walked toward the Institute past the church, I was stunned that someone had actually driven down that street and thrown a firebomb among worshipers.
The tour started with a brief film about the history of Birmingham and segregation. The film ended with a discussion of the separate public facilities, separate schools, and the general mistreatment of blacks in the 1950s and early 1960s. As the film came to an end, the curtain rose revealing two waters fountains located just behind the curtain. Each was clearly marked. One said, "Whites." The other had a sign over it that read, "Colored." The effect was startling. (I can still remember hearing about these as a child and my mother explaining to me what they meant.)
The Institute features a self-guided tour through the various stations. A person can leisurely walk through history remembering the Civil Rights Movement as well as the blight of segregation.
Finally, the last station features a huge wall-length screen of Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on April 28, 1963. The screen was huge and showed King in a close-up throughout the speech. As many times as I have heard this speech, I have never seen the emotion on King’s face like I did today.
If you are in or near Birmingham, I recommend this highly.