Alabama announces bicentennial celebration, Capitol Bicentennial Park

Alabama announces bicentennial celebration, Capitol Bicentennial Park
Gov. Robert Bentley, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and state Sen. Rusty Glover with a historic map of Alabama. The three helped announce an extensive three-year celebration of the state's bicentennial. (Michael Tomberlin/Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama’s bicentennial is seen by officials as such a big deal, they plan to spend three years celebrating.

At an event on the Capitol steps this morning, the state officially announced plans that will mark Alabama’s journey from territory to statehood.

“The celebrations planned over the next three years will educate, celebrate and honor those who have fought so hard to improve the legacy of our great state,” Gov. Robert Bentley said.

Bentley also unveiled plans to create a Capitol Bicentennial Park across from the Capitol building that will feature bas-relief sculptures telling the history of Alabama.

To be built between the Attorney General’s office and the Lurleen Wallace office building, the park will create a walking space that welcomes visitors and provides an educational Alabama History Walk.

Officials also announced plans to expand the Alabama Civil Rights Trail. A free app will allow those who are interested to follow the footsteps of the civil rights movement, from historic sites to biographies of key figures and a virtual immersion into the events. The app can be downloaded at www.alabama.travel.

Alabama formally announces bicentennial celebration plans from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Events in every county

Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, chairs the Bicentennial Commission. He said although the major announcements are happening in Montgomery and Mobile, every county in the state will have events tied to the bicentennial, and classrooms from kindergarten to graduate school will be marking the bicentennial with special studies.

“Over the next three years, we will explore our places, honor our people and share our stories,” Orr said.

An official public launch of the bicentennial will take place in Mobile on May 5 at 5:30 p.m. at Cooper Riverside Park.

“Mobile is Alabama’s oldest city,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. “It was founded in 1702, so we have more than 100 years on the rest of the state.”

Mobile’s slogan is the “City born to celebrate,” so Stimpson said expect everything from Alabama artwork to fireworks to kick off the bicentennial celebration.

Many ways to celebrate

Initiatives slated over the next three years include:

  • Making Alabama: A Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit will start in 2018 and be based on the Museum of Alabama at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. It will travel to all 67 counties in partnership with the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
  • Bicentennial PastPort Project will be a print and digital “passport to the past” to showcase destinations throughout the state that can be visited by schoolchildren, families or history buffs to see and learn about Alabama history.
  • The Federal Civil Rights Trail is an initiative coinciding with the expansion of the Alabama Civil Rights Trail into the U.S. Civil Rights Trail to cross-promote our major landmarks with others in Atlanta, Memphis, Washington, Little Rock, Jackson and other cities. The Alabama Tourism Department is leading this effort.
  • Alabama Legacy Moments are short video segments that will air on Alabama Public Television with replays on Alabama NewsCenter highlighting Alabama history, people and places.
  • Huntsville’s Constitutional Hall Village, built on the spot where the 1819 constitutional convention made Alabama a state, will be restored.
  • Birmingham initiatives will include several events in the Magic City to celebrate the bicentennial.
  • Fort Toulouse, a renowned Native American and French colonial site, will also receive renovation, restoration and increased programming.
  • Alabama art exhibition series and a coffee-table book are in the works in partnership with the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
  • Alabama Bicentennial Schools is a three-pronged effort targeting improved teaching, increased educational resources and support for school-based bicentennial projects. The project is partnering with the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

The schools program also includes professional development for teachers; curriculum made available for civics, social studies, geography and history through the Alabama Learning Exchange and bicentennial school resources and projects; and “Bicentennial in a Box” kits.

In addition to governmental entities and nonprofits, the Alabama bicentennial has a number of corporate sponsors on board that include Alabama Power, Regions Bank, Altec Industries, Boeing, Brasfield & Gorrie, Drummond Company, Medical Properties Trust, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Venturi Aerospace and Verizon.

State partners include the Alabama Tourism Department, Alabama Public Television, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Alabama State Council on the Arts, Alabama State Department of Education, Alabama Humanities Foundation and Alabama Historical Commission.

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