Birmingham Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day With Marches, History, Service Projects

Martin Luther King Jr. holds a special place in the history of Birmingham. It was here that he wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail after being arrested during a civil rights march.

King, in conjunction with local civil rights activists, organized the Birmingham campaign, which led to a brutal crackdown by law enforcement, captured the nation’s attention and contributed to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That history will be commemorated Monday with a list of events marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

At the King statue in Kelly Ingram Park – near sculptures depicting the lunging, snarling dogs released on civil rights marchers praying ministers, children who took part in the protests and many others – a wreath-laying ceremony will be held at 10 a.m.

A march in tribute to King follows at 11 a.m., beginning at the park.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is holding a civil rights rally at Boutwell Auditorium at noon.

At 2 p.m. the SCLC and Birmingham-area churches will feed senior citizens and homeless people, also at Boutwell, during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Love Feast. For more information on the feast, call 780-3515.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is offering free admission to tour the museum on MLK Day. The museum, at 520 16th St. North, opens at 9 a.m.

The Negro Southern League Museum also is offering free admission 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to tour the museum and explore the role baseball played in the civil rights movement and the integration of American society. The museum is at 120 16th St. South,

New Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn and Hands On Birmingham are asking residents to show Birmingham to the world by taking photos in their neighborhoods on MLK Day and posting them on social media with the tag #LoveOnBham. They hope the result will be a “shared collection of images and video that document and highlight the good people and special places that make us love our Magic City,” according to the Facebook page set up for the event.

The annual MLK Unity Breakfast is set for 7 a.m. Monday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, with new U.S. Senator Doug Jones as the keynote speaker.

Many groups are pulling together to make MLK Day a day of service. Hands On Birmingham, in coordination with local groups, is sponsoring a day of service to pay homage to King. The group has about 40 projects, including cleaning up or refurbishing neighborhoods and facilities.

The Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity will be offering free flu shots, blood pressure screenings and eye checks, among other services, during its Community Day of Service Health Fair. The event will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 801 46th St. North.

Many other local groups also are carrying out service projects in various neighborhoods.


U.S. Civil Rights Trail

Fourteen states, from Kansas to Delaware, are banding together to promote the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, which will highlight about 130 sites linked to the civil rights movement, according to an Associated Press article.

To commemorate the MLK holiday weekend, Travel South USA, in Atlanta, launched the new website The site includes information about landmarks on the trail, which include locations such as memorials and museums, as well as churches, courthouses, schools and businesses that played a role in the movement.

Alabama has the most sites on the trail, with 29.