Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail Award

The Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail speaks to the valor of both common people and to the spiritual leaders who spearheaded the fight against segregation and other forms of racism. The Trail winds through downtown Birmingham, marking significant locations along the 1963 Civil Rights march routes. Designed as a self-guided tour, the route directs Scouts along this historic pathway by maps at each location. There are multiple sites and routes along the trail an in the Historic Civil Rights District. Only the following 6 sites are required to achieve the award.

Award Requirements

Either with your family or unit, visit the following 6 sites and the 6 sculptures located in Kelly Ingram Park. This is a walking tour that starts at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.  Each Scout that competes the Trail is eligible to purchase the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail Award patch from the Greater Alabama Council. Patches can be ordered by submitting the application form and $6 for each patch. 

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a museum and research center that depicts the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960. The Institute showcases a walking journey through the “living institution”, which displays the lessons of the past as a positive way to chart new directions for the future. The permanent exhibitions are a self-directed journey through Birmingham’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and human rights struggles. 

Requirement: Visit and complete the Institute tour. Visit the website for information on hours and tickets. Free parking is available for cars and buses behind their building off of 15th Street North. 

During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the 16th Street Baptist Church served as an organizational headquarters, site of mass meetings and rallying point for African Americans protesting widespread institutionalized racism in Birmingham, Alabama, and the South.
On Sunday, September 15, 1963, Thomas Blanton, Bobby Frank Cherry and Robert Edward Chambliss, members of the Ku Klux Klan, planted 19 sticks of dynamite outside the basement of the church. At 10:22 a.m., they exploded, killing four young girls – Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair.

Requirement: Visit the outside of the church and discuss with your leaders and/or parents the significance of this important site. Church tours can be arranged via the church website. 

Founded in 1869, St. Paul is one of the oldest African-American churches in Birmingham. Its current building was erected in 1904. In 1956, St. Paul was the site of one of the earliest meetings in Birmingham during the direct-action campaign to integrate the city’s buses. During the demonstrations in 1963, St. Paul hosted mass meetings as well as held training sessions in nonviolent civil disobedience for the young demonstrators who participated in the Children’s Crusade marches. Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, a founder along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was one of the pastors at St. Paul during the Civil Rights Movement.

Requirement: Visit the outside of the church and discuss with your leaders and/or parents the significance of this important site. Tours are by appointment only. 

Distinguished as “A Place of Revolution and Reconciliation,” historic Kelly Ingram Park serves as a threshold to the Civil Rights District. During the Civil Rights Movement, this public park became the focal point of a grassroots resistance to the inhumanities of racism and discrimination by law and by custom. Events which took place in Kelly Ingram Park vividly portrayed the realities of police dogs and fire hoses turned on marchers who gathered for civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s. These images, which shocked the country and the world, proved to be instrumental in overturning legal segregation in the nation. 

Sculptures commissioned for the park depict attacks on demonstrators, children jailed for their role in the protests, and a tribute to the clergy’s contributions to the movement. In sharp contrast to scenes from the 60’s, all paths on Freedom Walk converge on its center, a peaceful and meditative life spring of hope.

Requirement: Explore the park and visit the following sculptures. Discuss the significance and importance of them with your leaders and/or parents. 

The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau developed an audio tour of the park. Simply dial 205-307-5455 to start the tour.

The Colored Masonic Temple (officially the Masonic Temple Building) is an 8-story Renaissance-Revival style building located at 1630 4th Avenue North. It was constructed for the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free & Accepted Masons of Alabama and is a contributing structure to the 4th Avenue Historic District. Throughout its history the building has housed the offices of notable African-American professionals, businesses and organizations, and a popular drug store and soda fountain on the ground floor. Its auditorium, with a capacity of 2,000, was used for meetings, ceremonies, concerts, dances, cotillions, mass meetings and other special events. The Duke Ellington Orchestra and Count Basie’s big bands played regularly in the Temple ballroom. 

Requirement: Visit the outside of the building. The building is currently under renovation, expected to reopen in 2022. 

The A.G. Gaston Motel, built by prominent African American businessman and entrepreneur, Arthur George Gaston (1892-1996), provided first-class lodging and dining in Birmingham, Alabama, to African American travelers. Designed by Birmingham-based architect Stanley B. Echols, the motel opened in 1954 and occupies a 0.88-acre parcel at 1510 Fifth Avenue North within the city center.

The A.G. Gaston Motel, a significant site of civil rights activities in 1963 that served as the headquarters of the campaign to desegregate public accommodations in Birmingham, Alabama. From the motel, leaders made critical decisions that advanced the cause of civil rights locally and shaped events and legislation nationally.

Recognizing the significance of the property, the City of Birmingham acquired the former motel in 2015 with the plan to incorporate it into the larger Birmingham Civil Rights Historic District. Today, the A.G. Gaston Motel is jointly owned by the National Park Service (NPS) and the City of Birmingham and is a part of Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. The monument was created by presidential proclamation on January 12, 2017, to honor the nonviolent protestors that fought against discriminatory state and local laws and practices in the 1950s and 1960s.

Requirement: Visit the outside of the motel and and discuss with your leaders and/or parents the significance of this important site. 

Information provided on this site related to the Heritage Trail locations comes the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument, and other engaged partners.