Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2003-02-11

A series of films, lectures and discussions spanning four months will highlight historical events and personalities of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.

"Before You Travel On: Reflections on the 40th anniversary of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement" is sponsored by Samford University and the Birmingham Public Library. The series is co-directed by Samford history professor Dr. S. Jonathan Bass and Birmingham Public Library archivist Jim Baggett. All events are free to the public. For information on any of the programs, call the Samford history department office at 726-2858.

The opening symposium, "Reflections on Birmingham," on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Birmingham Public Library's Arrington Auditorium will examine the local movement from three perspectives. Panelists and topics are: University of Tennessee history professor Cynthia G. Fleming, "Historians and the Movement"; Samford history professor S. Jonathan Bass, "Media and the Movement"; and Samford English professor Chris Metress, "Fiction and the Movement."

A photo exhibit, "Common Bonds: Birmingham Snapshots, 1900-1950," photos of black and white families, will be on display through March 30 in the Samford University Library.

Other events this month include two lectures at Samford.

Birmingham minister Rev. Abraham Woods, president, Birmingham chapter, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, will discuss "Birmingham Activism" on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. in Reid Chapel.

Historian and author Glenn T. Eskew, who teaches history at Georgia State University, will discuss "Memorializing the Movement" Monday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m. in Brock Forum.

March events begin with a film and discussion on Monday, March 3, "Who Speaks for Birmingham?", featuring a rarely seen 1961 CBS documentary on Birmingham race relations, at 6:30 p.m. in Brock Forum. The film includes interviews with then-Samford (Howard College) students. Dr. Leah Rawls Atkins, retired director of the Center for Arts and Humanities at Auburn University, will lead the discussion.

Other March events include:

March 10, a student-led forum and discussion on local and national racial issues, "Who Speaks for Birmingham Now?", Brock Forum, 6:30 p.m. March 12, lecture, "Role of Women in the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement," Tara Y. White, officer with the American Association for State and Local History, Nashville, Tenn., presented at noon at the Birmingham Public Library and at 6:30 p.m. in Brock Forum.

March 17, lecture, "A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Fred Shuttlesworth," presented by historian and author Andrew M. Manis, Samford Library, 4:30 p.m.

March 19, lecture, "Reopening of the 16th Street Bombing Investigation," Birmingham attorney Doug Jones, who as U.S. Attorney headed the prosecution of the last two suspects brought to trial for the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

March 20 lecture, "The Fire Still Burns Strong," Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, organizer of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in 1956, Reid Chapel, 10 a.m.

March 26, lecture, "Black Power in Birmingham," historian and black activism, scholar Robert W. Widell, Birmingham Public Library, 12 p.m.

Events continue in April with lectures, films and discussions.

April 7, symposium, "Transformation of Alabama Politics," led by University of Alabama at Birmingham history professor Samuel L. Webb. Panelists are former Alabama governor Albert Brewer, former Jefferson County Commission president Chriss Doss, and former Birmingham mayor Richard Arrington, Jr., Brock Forum, 6:30 p.m.

April 10, lecture, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," reflections and readings, Reid Chapel, 10 a.m.

April 14, symposium, "Transformation of Birmingham Politics," a discussion about Birmingham mayors Albert Boutwell, George Seibels, David Vann and Richard Arrington, led by University of Alabama geography professor Bobby M. Wilson, Birmingham Public Library, 6:30 p.m. Panelists are area professors S. Jonathan Bass, Samford; Ed Lamonte, Birmingham-Southern College; and Joseph Carlisle, Cumberland School of Law.

April 17, film and discussion, "Crisis," a 1963 documentary on George Wallace's stand at the University of Alabama, Brock Forum, 6:30 p.m.

April 24, film and discussion, "Four Little Girls," the Spike Lee documentary on the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

The series concludes with two events in May:

May 5, symposium, "Children of the Movement Remember," Brock Forum, 6:30 p.m. May 8, lecture, "Racial Reconciliation," Rev. Gerald Austin, pastor of New City Church and president/founder of the Center for Urban Missions.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.