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Forward March

The World Monuments Fund steps up to help protect Alabama’s architectural vestiges of the Civil Rights Movement

Julie L. Belcove

The buildings are humble, functional. There are sturdy, redbrick churches and modest houses with deep porches beneath overhangs that ward off the heavy Southern heat. There’s even a barbershop, its row of seats where customers wait like a congregation kneeling before an altar.

Seemingly unremarkable pieces of 20th-century America, these structures are in fact quite the contrary: extraordinary artifacts of the Civil Rights Movement, places where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, where Freedom Riders found shelter from mobs, and where social-justice activists huddled to strategize their nonviolent quest for human rights. More than a dozen such structures in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, have now been placed on the 2018 World Monuments Watch, a biennial list of cultural sites at risk of decay or destruction.

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