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Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church had a preeminent role in the story of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, in part because of the bombing there that took the lives of four young girls. However, other African American churches in Birmingham played a much larger role in the Civil Rights Movement. In particular, the Bethel Baptist Church, pastored from 1953 to 1961 by Fred Shuttlesworth, was the mother church of agitation against segregation in the city known as "Bombingham."
In 1998 the Birmingham Historical Society sponsored the Birmingham Revolutionaries Symposium to present a case for the national significance of Fred Shuttlesworth, his Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, and the sixty African American churches in which they met. Bringing together both historical and sociological analysis by scholars and personal reflections of participants, this volume includes six essays from the Symposium and makes a compelling case for recognizing Bethel Baptist Church, in addition to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, as a National Historic Landmark and for placing the other fifty-nine civil rights churches on the National Register of Historic Places.
These essays call attention to some of the Civil Rights Movement's most unsung heroes. Anyone interested in the history of race relations or in the Civil Rights Movement will find these essays rewarding reading.
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