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A city with guts

Posted by Patricia Harris  July 23, 2008 08:28 AM

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It’s a very classy act for Birmingham, Ala., to rename its airport after the civil right leader, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, as reported in the Globe on July 17. But then, when I’ve visited my friend Verna, I’ve been impressed with her city’s willingness to confront its segregationist past rather than sweep it under the rug. In Kelly Ingram Park, a leafy space downtown on 16th Street North, there are several bronze statues commemorating the struggle for civil rights—including a powerful image of a Birmingham policeman and his dog face-to-face with a civil rights demonstrator. Images of the police and fire fighters attacking demonstrators with dogs and firehoses in May 1963 were broadcast across the nation. By the end of the year, Birmingham had wiped its segregation ordinances from the books. Moreover, some historians say, the national outrage helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Such historical markers show real civic courage. I wonder if Boston will ever erect a statue of Ted Landsmark being beaten with an American flag on City Hall Plaza?

Posted by Patricia Harris, Globe Correspondent

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