The year was 1963.
As the whole world watched, events in Birmingham, Alabama, sparked the beginning of the end of a centuries-long struggle for freedom in the United States of America. In the year leading up to the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, the city’s most courageous citizens fought for a society in which all could all live as equals.
50 Years Forward: We commemorate “The Movement that Changed the World.”
As an institution committed to service, to excellence, to diversity, and to community involvement, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is a proud partner in the ongoing celebration of the strength and determination of those who made progress possible. It is our honor to join together with others to mark the enduring legacy of this incredible and now-storied victory over oppression, and to do so in a way that looks to the future. To the next “50 Years Forward.” To sharing new knowledge that benefits society. To advancing the cause of human rights as we educate tomorrow’s leaders. To improving quality of life for all.
Because as Birmingham goes, so goes the nation.
And we are one with Birmingham.
UAB will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the seminal events of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in a variety of ways over the course of the next year, including through performances, speakers, special academic courses and internship opportunities, and more. For the most comprehensive listing of all of the commemorative events and initiatives in the city, please visit the City of Birmingham’s official anniversary website: 50yearsforward.com
Tuesday, Sept. 10, 7 p.m.
In the spring of 2013, UAB Media students went into the Birmingham community to meet Movement leaders and footsoldiers. In a series of documentary films, they share their personal, intimate accounts of some of the most dramatic events of the 1950s and 1960s. The screening will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10 in UAB's Alys Stephens Center Sirote Theatre.
Nation joins Birmingham for “FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963”
Sunday, Sept. 15, 3 p.m.
The Kennedy Center will join theater companies and groups across the nation, as well as ArtPlay and UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center (ASC) on Sept. 15, 2013, for a national staged reading of Christina M. Ham’s play “FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963.”
The readings will commemorate the precise 50th anniversary of the bombing that took the lives of four young girls at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. It is part of Project1Voice’s nation-wide, simultaneous event of staged readings commemorating this seminal event in American history, which helped to galvanize the American civil rights movement only weeks after the historic March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The staged reading will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15, in the ASC’s Sirote Theatre, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $15. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.alysstephens.org.
ArtPlay’s teen Make It Happen Performing Ensemble and ArtPlay students will participate, along with a multi-generational cast of community actors and performers, directed by Alicia Johnson-Williams. ArtPlay and the ASC performed a workshop reading of the play in February of this year, to an invited audience that included family members and friends of the four girls, theater performers and presenters.
Tuesday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m.
The UAB Department of English will host Keith Miller, Ph.D., professor of English at Arizona State University, and author of Martin Luther King’s Biblical Epic: His Final, Great Speech and Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr. and its Sources. His lecture — "Rethinking the Civil Rights Movement: Why the National Memory is Wrong" — will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 in the Hulsey Recital Hall.
Evolution: Eric Essix Debuts Selections from His Musical Diary of Birmingham’s Progress
Thursday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m.
Birmingham native and Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Inductee Eric Essix will perform songs from “Evolution,” the artist’s landmark 20th recording and a musical diary that examines the progress of Birmingham over the past 50 years and into the future. A guitarist with intimate personal, family, and community connections to the subject matter, Essix has produced and recorded songs that have a direct connection to the Civil Rights Movement for more than a decade. At UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, a cultural center that unites UAB and the Birmingham community.
Essix also has solidified plans to present “Evolution” in several contexts, especially ones that are educational, including through the Alabama State Council on the Arts Touring Artists Program and performances in conjunction with the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition, he will tour Los Angeles and other West Coast cities with the Alys Stephens Center, and internationally with the Birmingham Sister Cities Program.
A More Convenient Season: World Premiere of a New Work of Hope & Healing by Composer Yotam Haber
Saturday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m.
Philanthropist Tom Blount has commissioned internationally-known composer Yotam Haber to create this world premiere, produced by the Alys Stephens Center, calling on the healing power of the arts to commemorate an event that became a turning point for the entire world—the horrific bombing of The 16th Street Baptist Church Sunday, September 15, 1963 at 10:22 a.m. The historic composition draws its title from the text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."
". . . who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ "
The program will feature the Alabama Symphony Orchestra led by guest conductor Damon Gupton, and the 16th Street Baptist Church Choir combined with children from across Birmingham led by guest choral director the Rev. Kevin Turner. It will incorporate historical sound recordings from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Oral History Project and will be digitally mastered by Philip White. Born in Holland, Haber grew up in Israel, Nigeria, and Milwaukee and completed a doctorate in composition at Cornell University. He is a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2007 Rome Prize Recipient. This will not be Haber’s first venture in composing works that explore issues of human rights and hope, as he has previously created three works that explore the culture and history of the Jewish Diaspora in Italy. Following its world debut at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, a cultural center that unites UAB and the Birmingham community, “A More Convenient Season” will premiere on the West Coast with the Cal Arts Orchestra at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre (REDCAT).
Friday, Sept. 27-Thursday, Oct. 31
Presented by the UAB Department of Art and Art History, the exhibition housed at The UAB Visual Arts Gallery, 900 13th St. South, will include a free opening reception with Adelman 5-9 p.m. Sept. 27 in the gallery. Adelman volunteered as a photographer for the Congress of Racial Equality in the early 1960s, a position that granted him access to many of the Civil Rights Movement’s key leaders, including Malcolm X, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and James Baldwin.