Birmingham Mayor William Bell joined University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Interim President Richard Marchase at a press conference on campus Thursday to announce a partnership in “50 Years Forward,” the upcoming commemoration of the seminal events of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
Mayor Bell drew comparisons to the extraordinary progress experienced by both UAB and the Movement in Birmingham as he and Marchase shared details about a “50 Years Forward” Web site and upcoming commemorative events.
“The City of Birmingham is proud to have UAB as a leadership partner in ‘50 Years Forward,’ the commemoration of the movement that changed the world,” Bell said. “Here, on what is one of our nation’s most diverse campuses, the commemoration of the events of 1963 takes on a special meaning. Here at UAB, where the four little girls were taken to the emergency room after that bombing; here, where a hospital, cafeterias, and academic programs were integrated deftly and without violence.”
Marchase expressed the UAB family’s shared pride in the partnership.
"It is our honor to join together with others to mark the enduring legacy of this incredible and now-storied struggle to achieve equality – and to do so in a way that looks to the future,” Marchase said. “As we participate throughout the coming year in an ongoing celebration of the strength and determination of those who made progress possible, we do so as an institution committed to service, to excellence, to diversity, and to community involvement.”
This week, UAB has launched www.uab.edu/50yearsforward, where visitors can access initiative highlights which include:
- The annual Martin Luther King Holiday tribute concert, “Reflect & Rejoice,” which will feature the Alabama Symphony Orchestra premiering two new compositions by UAB’s own Professor of Music Henry Panion, III, Ph.D., Jan. 20 at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.
- The “King of Conscious Hip-Hop,” Common, is coming to Bartow Arena Monday, Feb. 25. He is founder of the Common Ground Foundation, which is dedicated to the empowerment and leadership development of urban youth.
- The College of Arts & Sciences is bringing a series of important speakers, including the Billie Holiday biographer, Robert O’Meally; Martha Nussbaum, one of the nation’s most important human rights philosopher, and Eric Foner, the Pulitzer-prize winning historian. All of these events are free and open to the public.
- This spring, UAB students will make films with and about the Movement churches. On Aug.22 the Alys Stephens Center will host the premieres of those films.
- In September, Bob Adelman, the photographer who traveled with MLK and took many of the iconic pictures of King and the events of 1963, will bring his civil rights photography to UAB’s Visual Arts Institute.
- The ASC will offer some very special programming at the conclusion of Empowerment Week, which will mark the actual 50th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing Sunday, Sept. 15 at 10:22 a.m. Birmingham’s own Eric Essix, a member of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, will perform parts of his new work “Evolution” on Sept. 19. On Sept. 21, Birmingham will welcome the premiere of the ASC-commissioned piece by internationally-known composer Yotam Haber, “A More Convenient Season,” inspired by the text of King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” The performance will feature the Alabama Symphony Orchestra led by guest conductor Damon Gupton, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Youth Choir featuring guest director Rev. Kevin Turner and multimedia components including historical sound recordings from the Movement in Alabama. Both performances will take place at Jemison Concert Hall.
As an institution committed to service, excellence, diversity and community involvement, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is a proud partner with the City of Birmingham in 50 Years Forward, the ongoing 50th anniversary commemoration of the seminal events of the of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. UAB is joining with others to mark this enduring legacy in a way that looks to the future — to sharing new knowledge that benefits society, to advancing the cause of human rights while educating tomorrow’s leaders and to improving quality of life for all. Learn more at www.uab.edu/50yearsforward.