New monuments

Published 1:31 pm Friday, January 13, 2017

President Barack Obama declared five new national monuments Thursday, including two in Alabama.

Obama designated the Birmingham Civil Rights District as a national monument, a move that is expected to have a significant economic impact on the Magic City and bring a national spotlight to the pivotal role Birmingham played in the struggle for racial equality in the 1960s.

According to the National Park Service, every dollar invested in national parks or monuments generates $10 in economic activity.

The National Park Service has committed to contributing at least $300,000 annually to the monument.

The national monument will include portions of the Historic Birmingham Civil Rights District, including the A.G. Gaston Motel, the neighboring Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the 16th Street Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, the Colored Masonic Temple, St. Paul Lutheran Church and portions of the 4th Avenue Business District.

Obama also signed a proclamation designating the Freedom Riders Park in Anniston a national monument.

The monument includes the Greyhound Bus Station where a racially integrated bus of Freedom Riders attempting to test desegregation was attacked in the spring of 1961, and the site where the same bus was firebombed and burned some minutes later.

A third national monument designated yesterday, in Beaufort, S.C., commemorates the period between the Civil War and the push for segregation in the 1890s when freed slaves worked to establish schools and communities of their own.

The president also enlarged once more the California Coastal National Monument, which was established by President Bill Clinton and expanded by Obama in 2014, and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, another Clinton monument, by roughly 42,000 acres in Oregon and another 5,000 in California.

Obama’s declarations are possible under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Historic landmarks declared by public proclamation are called national monuments.

Established in 1906, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Obama.