Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, joined by Birmingham Mayor William Bell, announced the grant on Monday in kicking off fundraising for the Birmingham 2013Foundation.
“This grant will allow us to tell our story of both hurt and healing to the world,” Bell said in a statement.
The year 1963 was pivotal for the civil rights movement in Birmingham, underscored by then-police commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connors’ widespread use of fire hoses and dogs to put down protest marches.
It was also the year that four black girls attending Sunday School classes were killed when a bomb exploded at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, which had been a meeting place for civil rights leaders.
Bentley emphasizes that the commemoration will cover all aspects of the events of that traumatic year, but also “gives us an opportunity to write a new page in our history.”
“I watched as the South changed for the better,” Bentley says. “We need to look to see how far we’ve come and to take pride in that.”
Bell says the city plans a local heritage trail, traveling exhibit and an “empowerment weekend” that will include scholars, music of the movement, art exhibits and spoken word performances.