The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Civil Rights Memorial with a special two-day event in November.
The Civil Rights Memorial, dedicated by the SPLC on Nov. 5, 1989, honors 40 people who were killed during the modern civil rights movement, a period framed by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. Today, the memorial provides thousands of visitors each year with a vehicle for education and reflection about the struggles for equality. It is located just yards from the church that King pastored when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott that sparked the movement.
“As we celebrate 30 years of the Civil Rights Memorial, we are reminded that everyday people – including each and every one of us – have the power to bring about social change by standing up and speaking out against injustice,” said Tafeni English, director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center (CRMC). “The 40 names of civil rights martyrs inscribed on the memorial provide lessons on the courage, commitment and sacrifices these individuals made in the past to bring us where we are today, and they inspire us to continue the march until justice is a reality for everyone in society.”
The commemoration activities will begin on Monday, Nov. 4, with a panel discussion on the links between current voting rights issues and the civil rights movement. Many of the people recognized on the memorial died while working to ensure that black people in the Deep South had the right to vote. During the panel, SPLC Deputy Legal Director Nancy Abudu, who oversees voting rights work, will discuss voting rights in Alabama and SPLC’s work in the Deep South.
On the official anniversary date, Tuesday, Nov. 5, Montgomery Mayor-elect Steven Reed will deliver an address during a “Day of Remembrance” ceremony. Participants will lay a wreath and flowers on the memorial to honor the civil rights heroes. The event will include remarks by SPLC Interim President Karen Baynes-Dunning and special performances by the Park Crossing High School Choir under the direction of Darrian Stovall.
During the ceremony, the SPLC will announce the winner of the CRM30 Art Competition, a contest open to all Montgomery public school students in grades 9-12. Participants are asked to create an original drawing, painting, or other two-dimensional medium related to the modern civil rights movement. First, second and third place winners will receive cash awards, and their artwork will be displayed at the event.
In honor of the anniversary, the CRMC will offer free admission to visitors on Nov. 5 during its normal hours of operation. All events are free and open to the public.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, based is Alabama with offices in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.