18. December 2012 14:54
by Laura Anderson
The mission of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) is to promote civil and human rights worldwide through education. We do this by helping visitors understand the past’s relationship to the present and future developments of human relations in Birmingham, the U.S. and abroad. For some time we have worked toward launching this blog in fulfillment of our mission. Today we go live!
One reason we launch the blog is the fresh perspective of and invigorating presence at BCRI of Human Rights Fellow Tammi Sharpe. On leave from her regular full-time gig with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Tammi is spending time at BCRI during 2012 – 2013. She brings over 18 years of experience in humanitarian, human rights, peacekeeping, peace building and development fields in stable, fragile and failed states to her observations on interpretation of stories of conflict and resolution and/or reconciliation. We are enriched by Tammi’s unique perspective on our exhibitions and public programs. She sees our work through the lens of her knowledge of different components of the peace building process: return and reintegration of war-affected populations, reconciliation, and community recovery. Surely we have much to gain from the questions she raises about both our approach to interpreting history and our efforts to translate the lessons of history for today. And we definitely appreciate her willingness to oversee The Struggle Continues as we use it to build awareness of and interest in our institutional mission as well as plans for 2013…
…which brings me to the second reason we are launch the blog today: In the spring (April 25 – 27, 2013), BCRI will host Lessons of the Birmingham Movement: A Symposium on Youth, Activism and Human Rights. This will be an occasion to celebrate, contemplate and commemorate the roles of youth in movements for change and justice around the world. The year 2013 will mark fifty years since the historic Birmingham Children's Movement and the bombing of the city's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, events that turned the world's attention to the struggle in Alabama against extremism and toward human rights and equality. Importantly, many of the speakers from whom participants will hear during the course of the event are veterans of the Birmingham Movement – individuals who filled the streets and jails on behalf of a cause that turned the tide in Birmingham, helped to break the back of segregation, and ultimately benefitted the entire country by contributing to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Along with partners such as the Birmingham Rotary Club and the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, BCRI aims to shed light on the importance of youth and youth activism to the Birmingham Movement and other movements for change around the world.
Again, welcome. We look forward to your joining the conversation.