History and Heritage in Alabama
Come to Alabama to find the history of America on Alabama’s Civil War battlefields, and in its beautiful antebellum mansions of a long-gone era. Visit Montgomery where a young clergyman called Martin Luther King helped in the epic struggle for Civil Rights in 1955, and follow this fascinating history to Selma and Birmingham where events that shaped a nation took place. Alabama was also the birthplace of music greats including the great Hank Williams, justly revered around the world as the King of Country Music, and also that of ‘Father of the Blues’, W.C. Handy.
When coal, iron ore and limestone – the ingredients for making iron and steel – were found beneath its soil in the late 19th century, Birmingham quickly grew from a small farming town into the South’s foremost industrial centre. Money flowed and thousands came to get rich earning Birmingham the moniker of the “Magic City”. The city’s fortunes declined with the steel industry in the 1960s at a time when racial tensions were smouldering. President Barack Obama often refers to the voting rights marches in Alabama in speeches about how America has changed since the Civil Rights era, “What happened in Selma and Birmingham stirred the conscience of the nation”. Birmingham became a focal point of the Civil Rights struggle and today that story is told in vivid detail at the Civil Rights Institute, in sculptures at Kelly Ingram Park and at the 16th Street Baptist church, location of a racial bombing that killed four young girls. The Baptist Church may soon become one of the first World Heritage Sites in America linked to the struggle for Civil Rights. All three of these Civil Rights sites are located at the same intersection in downtown Birmingham.
In 1861 gallant Southern politicians gathered at the State Capitol in Montgomery and formed the Confederate States of America. The telegram starting the American Civil War was sent from Montgomery. Almost 100 years later Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus and the modern Civil Rights struggle in America was born. The Rosa Parks museum here gives a fascinating insight to events that changed a nation. Also visit the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail which crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, an icon for the Civil Rights struggle in America. Selma and Montgomery are commorating the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights March in 2015 and the movie Selma which was released in the UK in February 2015 pays homage to those who pioneered this event. Just one block from the State Capitol was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s first church as pastor. You can tour both his church and home.
Location of the first capital of the Louisiana Territory by the French, Mobile’s downtown reflects the past with famous architecture, fabulous food and Southern hospitality. Mobile is the home of America’s first Mardi Gras, which is still celebrated today. Mobile is also rich in American Civil War history. A few miles north is Blakeley Historical Park where a contingent of 20,000 men fought the last major battle of the Civil War.
Historic Blakeley State Park, Alabama
This pristine 2,100-acre park preserves the sites of the last major battle of the Civil War; the important early Alabama town of Blakeley; and American Indian and colonial era settlements. Over three miles of unspoiled Confederate and Union fortifications used during the Battle of Fort Blakeley on April 9, 1865, are on view. Visitors can walk the original streets of the ghost town of Blakeley, a thriving riverside town that once rivaled nearby Mobile. Also available are nearly eleven miles of walking, biking and horseback riding trails that showcase the beauty of the park's rich natural environment. The park is a stop on the Alabama Gulf Coastal Birding Trail and the national Civil War Discovery Trail.
Historic Blakeley State Park has RV and primitive camping facilities, as well as an outdoor covered pavilion and indoor nature center. The park also offers boat tours of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and the Port of Mobile which explore the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of the region.