Press Release - Detail
Angela Fisher Hall
Birmingham Public Library
Phone: (205) 226-3610
Cell: (205) 222-3389

FOR RELEASE February 26, 2010

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
-Anne Frank, Age 15 - March 26, 1944

Birmingham, Alabama— On Sunday, April 11, a Horse Chestnut Tree will be planted to symbolize how the courage of those who faced harsh intolerance has inspired our community’s growth into acceptance and hope. The tree is similar to one described by Anne Frank, a German-Jewish teenager who was forced to go into hiding during the Holocaust, as she gazed out the window of the room where she hid with her family for almost three years. A dedicatory plaque will be inscribed with Anne Frank’s words: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Five Birmingham organizations join together to make this dedication titled “Roots of Courage; Branches of Hope,” a program of remembrance and renewal on Sunday, April 11 at 1:00 p.m. in historic Kelly Ingram Park.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Birmingham Public Library, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Birmingham Jewish Federation and the Birmingham Holocaust Education Committee have collaborated to present this program to honor the memories of those who have been killed or victimized by intolerance and discrimination. A planned component of the program invites eighth-grade students from around the city to participate in a poetry contest on the theme, “Roots of Courage, Branches of Hope.” The winning poem will be read at the event and its creator receives a cash prize. Additionally, in support of the project, the Birmingham Public Library has distributed 450 copies of Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank as part of its “Read It Forward” initiative. Free copies of the book have been distributed and readers are encouraged to read the book, pass it on to others and then share their comments about the book online. The Sunday event is open to the entire Birmingham community and everyone is invited to attend.

Born on June 12, 1929, Anne Frank was a German-Jewish teenager who was forced to go into hiding during the Holocaust. She and her family, along with four others, spent 25 months during World War II in an annex of rooms above her father’s office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

After being betrayed to the Nazis, Anne, her family, and the others living with them were arrested and deported to Nazi concentration camps. In March of 1945, nine months after she was arrested, Anne Frank died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen. She was fifteen years old.

Her diary, saved during the war by one of the family’s helpers, Miep Gies, was first published in 1947. Today, her diary has been translated into 67 languages and is one of the most widely read books in the world.

Kelly Ingram Park is a historic park in Birmingham which was the central focal point for grass roots demonstrations in the 1960s. Events that unfolded at Kelly Ingram Park horrified the nation and put the Civil Rights struggle in the spotlight, ultimately leading to a complete reform of current laws. In 1993, former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington proclaimed the park as “A Place of Revolution and Reconciliation.”

Also known as West Park, Kelly Ingram Park is a four acre city park in Birmingham, Alabama. The park is bordered by 16th and 17th Streets on the East and West sides of the park, and by 6th Avenue and 5thAvenue on the Northern and Southern sides of the park. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church are both located across the street from the park. The park received its name in 1932, being named after a local firefighter, Osmond Kelly Ingram. Ingram was the first sailor of the United States Navy to be killed during World War I, and naming the park after Ingram was meant to be a great honor to his memory and to the Ingram family. No one could have foreseen the terrible events that would unfold at Kelly Ingram Park three decades later.

During the first week of May in 1963, Birmingham police and firefighters ruthlessly attacked civil rights demonstrators. Thousands were arrested and jailed, including children as young as six. The nation looked on in horror as the Associated Press sent out images of police beating demonstrators with batons and unleashing dogs onto the crowd, all while the Birmingham Fire Department hosed down the peaceful demonstration with fire hoses.

As a large open area directly across from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park was a natural choice for demonstrators to assemble. Under the director of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) determined that Kelly Ingram Park would be the meeting point for a massive protest campaign that was set to confront the civil rights injustices in Birmingham head on.

MEDIA: Media coverage of this event is welcomed. Representatives of partner institutions are available for interviews. Please contact Angela Fisher Hall at (205) 226-3610 to schedule interviews.
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