The American Association for State and Local History is holding its annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, attracting about 700 people from a variety of history organizations around the country. The schedule is packed into three days and today started with an outstanding tour of the Civil Rights movement using historic sites around and the public art in Kelley Ingram Park. We learned about the many people involved, the strategies and obstacles, using both local and national (sometimes even international) stories. A new sculpture was just installed to honor the children who were killed fifty years ago (four girls from a bombing of the church and two boys on the streets of Birmingham), now accompanying statues of Martin Luther King Jr., children facing fire hoses, and the famous walk-through sculpture of attacking police dogs. I’ll be sharing more from the annual meeting in the following days, including a summary from the discussions on the relevance of history.
Tonight’s speech by 16th Street Baptist Church bombing survivor, Carolyn McKinstry, was powerful and moving. AASLH is always a conference not to miss. Next year is in St. Paul, September 17-20, 2014.