16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Launches Preservation Campaign

Fifty-five years after Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the epicenter of the campaign for civil rights, a campaign was launched Monday to help preserve the historic place of worship.

The church launched a month-long effort to win national funding to complete significant preservation of the iconic building as part of the Partners in Preservation competition for funding.

The Rev. Arthur Price, pastor of Sixteenth Street, said the aim is to earn $150,000 which will place protective glass over the recently restored windows and make repairs to the church’s cupola and bell towers.

Reverend Arthur Price of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church speaks during the preservation campaign launch. (Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Photos, For The Birmingham Times)

“We get tens of thousands of people who come to Birmingham to view this structure every year,” Price said, noting that some preservation work was done 10 to 15 years ago. “With the weather we have in Alabama, it’s always a threat to the structure. This way, we can continue to preserve it and continue to make sure this place is here for future generations to see so we can continue to tell the story about what happened here 55 years ago.”

The church is among 20 nominees for preservation funding. The winners of the funding will be determined by popular vote. Persons register and can vote as many as five times a day on an address.

Public voting began Monday and runs through October 26 to determine the winner of the grant. An individual can vote up to five times daily online at www.16thStreetBaptist.org or by texting “MAINSTREET” to 52886.

As many as five Main Streets will receive a share of $2 million in American Express funding. Participants can also enter for a chance to win either a weekly prize drawing or a grand prize drawing from National Geographic.

Price called 16th Street Baptist a place of sacrifice and service where social change took place “where lessons have been learned, where lives have been touched. (It is) where this land was transformed because the events that happened here helped change the world.”

The pastor noted that President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 came on the heels of the tragic bombing of the church that injured scores of church members and took the lives of four African American girls. The tragedy also led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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Source: Birmingham Times