In 2023, a series of programs in Birmingham will commemorate 60 years since the city’s 1963 civil rights campaign

In 2023, the City of Birmingham will dedicate the year to commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement in 1963.

The tribute year will be a collaboration with area churches, arts organizations, activists, businesses and nonprofits. The tributes will include a series of programs, events, workshops and entertainment that will be open to the entire community. The theme of the year is ‘Forging Justice’, a nod to Birmingham’s industrial beginnings.

“Birmingham is known for its production of steel and also for its racial past. Today, however, just as steel fuses different elements to form a singular force, the city has strived to forge relationships between all races, religions, ethnicities and creeds,” the city said in a description of the upcoming programs.

The year 1963, the city says, was a pivotal time in history, with marches and demonstrations as African Americans demanded the rights promised to them as American citizens:

“Young people as young as eight took part in a children’s crusade where young people marched and were imprisoned for freedom. Led by students, a selective buying campaign was launched where black residents only bought from businesses that provided equal access to all. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. Domestic terrorism also rocked the city. The AG Gaston Motel was bombed on Mother’s Day and on September 15, 1963, four little girls were killed in a tragic bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

The City’s role in the commemoration will be to highlight and support the number of programs taking place during the year. Events so far include the commemoration of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the re-enactment of the Children’s March, concerts, exhibits, a healing conference and tributes to the Dr. King and Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth. Birmingham will also host peacemakers from around the world with the International Peace Conference and Peace Week from May 1-5, 2023.

City officials and community leaders — including Mayor Randall Woodfin, Denise Gilmore, senior director of the Social Justice and Racial Equity Division, and the Reverend Arthur Price, pastor of 16th Street Baptist Church — announced “Forging Justice” at a press conference on Thursday.

“We are so excited and delighted to be able to partner with the City and County of Jefferson on the commemoration of the Birmingham Movement of 1963, which we believe is a very significant movement in the history of our country,” said said Price. “As important as Gettysburg, just as important as Valley Forge. Just as important as the Boston Tea Party Harbor protest. I believe what happened in Birmingham changed the world.

“Forging Justice” will feature a schedule of different themes that will guide programming and events.

“Each month, the themes will just give us the opportunity to celebrate across the city,” Gilmore said. “So January is unity. Dr King and the role he played in trying to bring people together. And so, each month, we will focus on these themes.

Here are the themes of “Forging Justice”:

  • January – Unit
  • February – Black Resistance
  • March – Women
  • April – Clergy
  • May – Children and young people
  • June – Restorative Justice
  • July – Environmental Justice
  • August – Tales
  • September – Civil and Human Rights
  • October – Social Justice
  • November – Arts and culture
  • December – Economic Opportunity

Updates on the commemorations, as well as a calendar of events, will be available at The list will continue to evolve and grow as the city adds more events and programs.

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