Standing proud across the street from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hub for hundreds of people who continue to work for civil rights around the country and the world, the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, is a monument for the 40 people who died between 1954 and 1968 fighting for equal treatment of all people.
A guard stands outside of the memorial to make sure that it is never vandalized, and can be enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year. Many more than 40 people died fighting for civil rights, but the Southern Poverty Law Center, which sponsors the memorial, chose the dates 1954 to 1968 because 1954 is the year in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was unlawful, and 1968 is the year that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
Designed and created by Maya Lin, who also worked on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Civil Rights Memorial was dedicated in 1989. Lin’s design was inspired by King’s “…we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” line from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech that he delivered on the National Mall on August 28, 1963. The concept revolves around water having a soothing and healing effect.
Know Before You Go
Metered parking is available on the streets around the memorial. Trolleys are also available from the Montgomery Area Visitor Center. The memorial is within walking distance of other historic sites including the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the Alabama State Capitol, the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Rosa Parks Library and Museum.