The Southern Poverty Law Center reopened the Civil Rights Memorial Center (CRMC) today, unveiling new exhibits and updates designed to enhance visitors’ understanding of the civil rights movement and the ongoing struggle for justice.
“We are excited to welcome visitors back to the CRMC after closing temporarily in March 2020 due to COVID-19,” said CRMC Director Tafeni English. “Prior to the pandemic, we began working with Monadnock Media on renovations that would enhance visitor experience and do a better job of connecting the past to the present. This work is now more important than ever in light of the current moment of racial reckoning ignited by the brutal police killing of George Floyd.”
The opening comes three days before the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth on Jan. 15, 1929. In honor of the King holiday and Black History Month, the SPLC is offering free admission through February. Visitors must register for tickets online here.
The CRMC, maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), first opened in 2005 as an interpretive space for the Civil Rights Memorial, located in downtown Montgomery beside the SPLC’s main office. It honors the lives of 40 people killed during the modern civil rights movement (1954-1968). Thousands of people visit the Memorial and the CRMC each year to learn more about the movement and the men, women and children whose names are inscribed on the Memorial.
Visitors to the CRMC will find several new features, including:
- A community poem exhibit, compiled by New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander.
- Modifications to the theater room and a new film produced for the SPLC by Monadnock Media, Apathy Is Not an Option.
- A motion-activated, educational video overview of the modern civil rights movement.
- Kiosks offering the story of the Memorial, including its design by Maya Lin and video from the 1989 dedication ceremony.
- An interactive table that enables visitors to learn more about the martyrs and key dates from the movement.
The updates also include a high-definition mural featuring key social justice events in recent years. An interactive tool provides more information about contemporary social justice issues.
“The reopening of the CRMC comes precisely at the right moment as our country grapples with efforts to prevent the teaching of an honest history about race and racism in our schools,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the SPLC. “The CRMC and museums across the country can help fill those gaps. I’m thrilled that the CRMC is reopening to once again help visitors understand the truth about the history of civil rights advocacy in this country.”
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, visitors will be required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks. The space will also be limited to groups of no more than 20 people. The hours of operation are Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The gift shop will remain closed until further notice.
Murals at the Civil Rights Memorial Center were designed by The Design Minds, Inc. (Credit: SPLC)