New project highlights civil rights sites in Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A new project is highlighting some of the places in Alabama that played a role in the civil rights movement.

An online, oral history presentation called “Voices of Alabama” features photos of historic sites and interviews with some of the people who worked with the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The state was a hotbed of the movement at the time.

The website went online Wednesday.

The parsonage where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. lived in Montgomery is included. So are other places including a home in Selma where landmark demonstrations were planned, as well as churches in Birmingham that played a role in the movement.

The project features 20 sites total. It was assembled by the New York-based World Monuments Fund and the Alabama African-American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium.

Videos allow viewers to hear stories of the era firsthand from participants and witnesses.

In one, Nelson Malden recalls cutting King’s hair at Malden Brothers Barber Shop, located in the now-closed Ben Moore Hotel, one of the few hotels for blacks in racially segregated Montgomery during the 1950s.

King, a young pastor working in his first church job at the time, didn’t tip, Malden said. The barber said he tried to subtly encourage a tip, but King had a retort.

“So he got out of that chair, he grabbed my hand and held it real tight and said, ‘Do you put 10% of your earnings in checks?’ I said, ‘Rev, I’m a student at Alabama State College, I cannot afford to put 10% of my earnings in checks.’ He said, ‘I’m a pastor at the church, I can’t afford to tip you, either.’ So, we had a really good relationship.”

The consortium that developed the project was organized by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

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