In January 2012, the mayors of seven southern cities agreed to a joint initiative marking the 50th anniversary of 1963–the height of the American Civil Rights Movement. Following, find a selection of events planned.


In 1963, Birmingham was the center of the Civil Rights Movement, and its historic civil rights district was ground zero for what happened that momentous year. Fifty years later, the city is playing host to a year-long series of events to highlight the year. The celebration, called “50 Years Forward,” includes the following activities and many more:

The website www.50yearsforward.com features a plethora of images and events in commemorating the happenings in 1963 in Birmingham. They include film screenings, art exhibits, rallies, panel discussion and much more.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is playing a central role in the 50th anniversary celebration by offering a year’s worth of events highlighting the history. Visit the website for details: http://www.uab.edu/50yearsforward.

Aug. 18-Nov. 17—Birmingham Museum of Art. “Etched in Collective History” is an exhibition of 60 works by 30 artists who interpreted the 1963 church bombing and racial violence through photography, paintings and sculpture.

Aug. 22—Lyric Theater (Birmingham’s only existing theater that allowed Blacks and Whites to attend performances at the same time during segregation era). Presented by the Birmingham Museum of Art, mixed media artist Jefferson Pinder proposes to create an art performance to capture the era of segregation through poetry and music. “Belly of the Beast” is a vocal duel between a Black Gospel choir and White Bluegrass singers.

Sept. 8-Dec. 2—Birmingham Museum of Art. “The Dawoud Bey Project” is a new body of work by acclaimed photographer Dawoud Bey. It symbolically commemorates the four girls killed in the Sept. 15, 1963, bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, as well as the two Birmingham boys who died in the resulting violence that day.

Sept. 12-15—Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Empowerment Week includes the 2013 National Conference of Civil Rights.

Sept. 11—Children from around the state will plant trees across Birmingham. All 50 trees are currently being housed at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which grew them from seeds and is donating them.

Sept. 15—Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 bombing.

Sept. 21—University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. “A More Convenient Season”—Composer Yotam Haber created this orchestral work to address the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on Sept. 15, 1963. The score will be performed by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church youth choir.

Oct. 6-Dec. 29—Birmingham Museum of Art. “Question Bridge: Black Males” is a transmedia art project that counters notions of Black masculinity in the U.S. Men from Birmingham are included in this dialogue about race, class, sexuality and economic status.

Oct. 7-19—Birmingham Children’s Theatre (Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex). “The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963” is adapted from Christopher Paul Curtis’ popular young people’s book. It tells the story of the Watson family from Flint, Mich., who were visiting Birmingham when the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed.

Nov. 3-Dec. 27—Birmingham Public Library downtown. “Unseen, Unforgotten: The Civil Rights Photographs of The Birmingham News.”


The B & W Charters tour department has bus trips planned to Alabama to retrace the steps of the Civil Rights Movement during 1963. Details below: Tuesday, Sept. 10-Monday, Sept. 16. For info: (269) 345-4222.


Oct. 15—Presidential Civil Rights Lecture Series, 6 p.m., in the Woodworth Chapel at Tougaloo College. Inaugural lecture of the series.

Oct. 19—Woodworth Chapel Memorial Plaza Ceremony and Unveiling of the Tougaloo College Civil Rights Wall of Honor, 1 p.m., Bennie G. Thompson Academic and Civil Rights Research Center. These events will honor individuals who made contributions to the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.


The theme for the celebration of civil rights in this city is “Columbia, S.C. 63: Our Story Matters,” and among the activities taking place are:

Sept. 15—Civil Rights Sundays: Integration of South Carolina Colleges at 3 p.m. in the Nickelodeon Theatre, 1607 Main St., Columbia, will feature archival footage from the University of South Carolina Libraries’ Moving Image Research Collections showing what the integration of South Carolina colleges looked like, with a particular eye towards the integration of the University of South Carolina and Clemson.

Aug. 24—11 a.m.-5 p.m. Jubilee: Festival of Heritage. Presented by the Historic Columbia Foundation Mann-Simons Site, 1403 Richland St. Free. The 35th annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage, celebrating culture and the contributions of Celia Mann and her descendants, a family whose roots began with the work of a freed enslaved person and continued with the entrepreneurial spirit of her descendants. Festival activities include tours of the Mann-Simons Site, bus tours of African American heritage sites. Jubilee celebrates the life of Celia Mann and her descendants. Although only one house stands today, the Mann-Simons site historically was a collection of commercial and domestic spaces owned and operated by the same African American family from at least 1843 until 1970.

Aug. 25—3 p.m. “I Was There: Remembering the March on Washington,” presented by Columbia S.C. 63, the Renaissance Foundation, Columbia S.C. 63 and Historic Columbia Foundation in conjunction with the 2013 Jubilee: Festival of Heritage and Bethel A.M.E. Church, 819 Woodrow St. Free. is moderated by Bobby Donaldson, Ph.D., professor of history at the University of South Carolina. This panel discussion will feature Columbians who attended the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, and they will share their recollections and impressions of that historic day.

Ongoing—“If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus,” on display through Sept. 20, is an invitational, juried art exhibit featuring more than 60 works by artists including Susan Lenz, Laura Spong, Jean Groser and Tish Lowe. Inspired by Pete Seeger’s song “If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus,” the works examine and address issues of social, artistic and personal freedom and pay tribute to history’s leaders and champions of self-determination, equal opportunity and societal change. Free. Presented by McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, McKissick Museum, 816 Bull St., Columbia.

Oct. 4—“Defying the Quiet” will feature photography from various civil rights campaigns across the state and give voice to many of the individuals who participated in them. This exhibit will educate and inform visitors of the struggle for civil rights within African American communities, demonstrate how this struggle was both documented and hidden by city and state agencies and the press, and discuss the lasting legacy this movement had on the history of South Carolina and the nation. The exhibit will be on display through Jan. 17, 2014. Presented by McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, McKissick Museum, 816 Bull St., Columbia. For other events, go to the website: http://www.columbiasc63.com/calendar.html.


50th Anniversary March on Washington

Aug. 21-28—A full week of events will be hosted by the King children, the remaining four of the original six organizing groups and the last living organizer, Congressman John Lewis, as well as other organizations like National Action Network. The main event will include a commemorative march and rally along the historic 1963 route on Sat., Aug. 24. The rally will be held at the Lincoln Memorial from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Among the speakers and groups are Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, the families of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till; Congressman John Lewis; Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader; Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer; Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Lee Saunders, president, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Janet Murguia, president, The National Council of LaRAZA; Mary Kay Henry, international president, Service Employers International Union (SEIU); Dennis Van Roekel, president, National Education Association (NEA); and many others.

Aug. 22—Panel session hosted by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. “The Unjust Relationship Between Race and the Criminal Justice System,” from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Crowell & Moring, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.

Global Freedom Festival

Aug. 23-27—National Mall, Friday, 12-7 p.m., Saturday, 3-7 p.m. (following the march), Sunday 12-7 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The event will include four days of education, entertainment and activities that focus on advancing freedom throughout the world.

Below find websites that list a variety of activities commemorating the 50th anniversary Civil Rights Movement events:

  1. http://ncbcp.org/news/releases/MOW_50th/

  2. http://www.dusablemuseum.org/events/details/50th-anniversary-celebration-of-the-march-on-washington

  3. http://50thanniversarymarchonwashington.com/