As the whole world watched, events in Birmingham, Alabama, sparked the beginning of the end of a centuries-long struggle for freedom in the United States of America. In the year leading up to the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, the city’s most courageous citizens fought for a society in which all could all live as equals.
50 Years Forward: We commemorate “The Movement that Changed the World.”
As an institution committed to service, to excellence, to diversity, and to community involvement, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is a proud partner in the ongoing celebration of the strength and determination of those who made progress possible. It is our honor to join together with others to mark the enduring legacy of this incredible and now-storied victory over oppression, and to do so in a way that looks to the future. To the next “50 Years Forward.” To sharing new knowledge that benefits society. To advancing the cause of human rights as we educate tomorrow’s leaders. To improving quality of life for all.
Because as Birmingham goes, so goes the nation.
And we are one with Birmingham.
UAB will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the seminal events of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in a variety of ways over the course of the next year, including through performances, speakers, special academic courses and internship opportunities, and more. For the most comprehensive listing of all of the commemorative events and initiatives in the city, please visit the City of Birmingham’s official anniversary website: 50yearsforward.com
Evolution: Eric Essix Debuts Selections from His Musical Diary of Birmingham’s Progress Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 7 p.m.
Birmingham native and Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Inductee Eric Essix will perform songs from “Evolution,” the artist’s landmark 20th recording and a musical diary that examines the progress of Birmingham over the past 50 years and into the future. A guitarist with intimate personal, family, and community connections to the subject matter, Essix has produced and recorded songs that have a direct connection to the Civil Rights Movement for more than a decade. At UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, a cultural center that unites UAB and the Birmingham community.
Essix also has solidified plans to present “Evolution” in several contexts, especially ones that are educational, including through the Alabama State Council on the Arts Touring Artists Program and performances in conjunction with the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. In addition, he will tour Los Angeles and other West Coast cities with the Alys Stephens Center, and internationally with the Birmingham Sister Cities Program.
World Premiere by composer Yotam Haber Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 8 p.m.
UAB’s Alys Stephens Center and philanthropist Tom Blount have commissioned internationally-known composer Yotam Haber to create this world premiere, calling on the healing power of the arts to commemorate an event that became a turning point for the entire world—the horrific bombing of The 16th Street Baptist Church Sunday, September 15, 1963 at 10:22 a.m. The historic composition draws its title from the text of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."
". . . who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ "
The program will feature the Alabama Symphony Orchestra led by guest conductor Damon Gupton, and the 16th Street Baptist Church Choir combined with children from across Birmingham led by guest choral director the Rev. Kevin Turner. It will incorporate historical sound recordings from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Oral History Project and will be digitally mastered by Philip White. Born in Holland, Haber grew up in Israel, Nigeria, and Milwaukee and completed a doctorate in composition at Cornell University. He is a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2007 Rome Prize Recipient. This will not be Haber’s first venture in composing works that explore issues of human rights and hope, as he has previously created three works that explore the culture and history of the Jewish Diaspora in Italy. Following its world debut at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, a cultural center that unites UAB and the Birmingham community, “A More Convenient Season” will premiere on the West Coast with the Cal Arts Orchestra at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre (REDCAT).