BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) —The city of Birmingham is commemorating the 1960s Civil Rights Movement through several events and exhibits during the Forging Justice Commemoration Week.
A new exhibit at the A.G. Gaston Motel tells the life and legacy of the Birmingham businessman who owned it and how his works helped fill the needs of the Black community.
Civil Rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth stayed at the A.G. Gaston frequently. During the Civil Rights Movement, the motel was one of the only safe places African-Americans could stay for lodging.
King and Shuttleworth used the motel as a meeting place to plan Project C in 1963.
“Project Confrontation, which began the year-long campaign of protest,” said Denise Gilmore, senior director of social justice and racial equity for the city of Birmingham.
In May of 1963, the motel was bombed on the side where Dr. King and other civil rights leaders would meet.
“What they were hoping was that Dr. King was staying in that room and that he would be sleeping in hotel room 30 and the bomb would kill him,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore says no one was injured or hurt by the bomb that night. She says stories like this are reasons why people should visit the exhibit and hopes they leave inspired that they can make a difference in their community.
“If you use whatever resources you have and if it’s something you care about and you see the community needs that, then you can really be an advocate for the community where you live and help bring about positive change,” Gilmore said.
The exhibit will be open through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.