Kelly Ingram Park
Birmingham also referred to as the ‘City of a thousand trades’ is a place popularly known for its industrial heritage, historic sites, and its role in the civil rights movement. Kelly Ingram Park is a civil rights site that is located in the city.
About the Park
Kelly Ingram Park, originally known as West Park, is a 4-acre park in Birmingham that served as a major staging area for large-scale protests during the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. It is an improved public park that contains emotionally powerful sculptures depicting the civil rights struggle in Birmingham. It was named after local firefighter Osmond Kelly Ingram in 1932. The park served as an assembly spot for activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other groups in the movement. The park became a global symbol of civil disobedience for blacks demanding equality.
Notable features of the Park
The park is home to sculptures depicting attacks on demonstrators, children imprisoned for their role in the protests, bombings in 1963, and tributes to the clergy’s contributions to the movement. The sculptures include;
– A central fountain surrounded by statues of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and other civil rights movement heroes, as well as three installations by artist James Drake flanking a circular “Freedom Walk.” They immerse visitors in depictions of terror and sorrow from the 1963 clashes.
– Raymond Kaskey’s limestone sculpture that depicts three pastors kneeling in prayer.
– The Four Spirits sculpture that was designed as a memorial to the four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing (which occurred on September 15, 1963).
– Additional monuments on police brutality and sculptures that honor the Civil Rights Movement’s “foot soldiers” and other unsung heroes.
The park offers a free guided audio tour through mobile phones. This tour guides visitors through the historical significance of each sculpture, using brief but powerful descriptions at each stop. The park also hosts several local family festivals and cultural and entertainment events throughout the year.
Every year, thousands of visitors come from around the world to learn about Birmingham’s painful and pivotal role in a nationwide call for civil rights. Kelly Ingram Park is their first stop.
Kelly Ingram Park is located just outside the doors of the 16th Street Baptist Church at 500 17th Street North Birmingham, AL 35203. Opening hours are from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm every day.