Campaign wants to recognize historic landmarks

Published 11:16 pm Saturday, November 15, 2014

Selma native and historian Louretta Wimberly is ready to see sites in her historic city receive the state and national recognition they deserve.

Wimberly, a founding member of the Alabama Historical Commission’s Black Heritage Council, is leading an initiative to get more than 50 sites associated with Selma’s voting rights movement listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

The sites include Selma University, Bloch Park, Morning Star Baptist Church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and many more.

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“I think the history of black people is very significant to this country and this world,” Wimberly said.

Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage is an official listing of buildings, sites, structures, objects and districts worthy of preservation.

Properties must be at least 40 years old and associated with events of state or local significance, and those eligible are often associated with the lives of persons of state or local significance, represented with a type, style, or period of architecture or associated with Alabama’s history or prehistory, according to the Alabama Historic Commission’s website.

The National Register of Historic Places has a same definition and many of the same as the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage, but its properties, which have to be 50 yeas of more old, are throughout the nation.

More than 80,000 properties are listed on the National Register, which represents 1.4 million individual resources, according to National Register of Historic Places Program’s website.

The process to get the 50-plus sites Wimberley proposes be listed included completing a survey on each property.

The survey outlines each property’s significance and references to reliable documents confirming that information.

Black Heritage Council held a three-hour work session Monday in which they announced the completion of the survey and provided certification forms from the Alabama Historic Commission.

These documents will aid Wimberley and others in their mission to get the properties recognized as Alabama historic landmarks.

Black Heritage Council conducted its first survey about 14 years ago, but administration changes prevented it from being completed, Wimberley said.

Now that they’re under new leadership, they are able to move forward .

Wimberly said preservations are funded through a certified local government grant provided by the Alabama Historic Commission.

The Selma City Council had to accept the grant and provide matching funds.

Wimberley said the Black Heritage hopes to have the process of having the sites receive state and national significance next year.

“The history needs to be recorded, because it’s important that our people need to know where they came from as they live so they can progress and develop themselves for the future,” Wimberley said.