- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The mayor of Birmingham plans to ask President Barack Obama to issue an executive order designating the AG Gaston Freedom Center and the Civil Rights District as a National Historic Park.

Mayor William Bell plans to make the request next week, Al.com (https://bit.ly/2aavyOK) reported. The city says the historic 1954 wing of the Freedom Center will be preserved. The legendary “war room” will be returned to its 1963 state.

“This project will be transformative for the Civil Rights District and beyond,” Bell said in a written statement. “Not only will the history be preserved, but the economic impact has the potential to really transform the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

“We are working with the Department of Interior, National Park Service, the Council on Environmental Quality for the White House, Congresswoman Sewell’s office and the White House to coordinate this designation and we really cannot wait to see it all come together,” he continued.

Earlier this year, Rep. Terri Sewell introduced legislation create the Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park. But there’s not enough voting days left in the legislative term to get the bill passed.



Earlier this year, the city council approved a proposal for $10 million to restore the former A.G. Gaston Motel and build a Freedom Center.

The remaining 1968 wing of the hotel will be rehabbed and become archival space for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

The mayor’s office said every local college has signed a memorandum of understanding to use the classroom space as part of Civil Rights curriculums established at each school.

The historic 1954 wing of the Freedom Center will be preserved. The legendary “war room” will be returned to its 1963 state, the city said.

The story of Project “C”, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and A.G. Gaston will be told with digital exhibits.

The San Antonio Missions group was recently declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations and a National Park but the National Park Service. It saw a $117 million plus economic impact on the local economy, according to a recent study. It also is expected to create more than a 1,000 jobs.

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