“Becoming Alabama” statewide partnership launched

State agencies, museums, historical organizations, and tourism officials announce the launch of Becoming Alabama, a statewide partnership for the commemoration of the Creek War, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. Speaking last week in the historic House Chamber of the State Capitol, representatives of the collaborative effort invited historical societies, schools, and local governments to promote their communities’ roles in the state’s distinctive history. Officials also unveiled a logo commissioned for the anniversary period that can be used by organizations throughout the state to promote commemoration activities.”We are about to pass through a remarkable constellation of anniversaries that coincide over the next five years,” said Ed Bridges, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History. “This is a unique opportunity to focus on three interconnected struggles that shaped who we are today.” 

More than forty organizations of all sizes have participated in planning that began in April 2009, when tight budgets and reduced staff made the prospect of large commemorative efforts daunting. By approaching the three historical periods collectively, the partners were able to stretch limited resources. They also realized that these three periods collectively tell the major stories in the creation and shaping of Alabama statehood and society, hence the theme and name “Becoming Alabama.”Lawrence Pijeaux, president and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, explained that the arrangement allows an organization to present programs that fit its mission while complementing the efforts of others. “This cooperative approach enables each partner to stress its strength while contributing to a larger understanding of Alabama history as a whole,” Pijeaux said. “It also means that no organization is too small to take part, and we encourage the broadest participation possible.” Alabama Heritage magazine was an early participant in the effort, and the Fall issue introduced at the press conference includes the fourth installment in an ongoing Becoming Alabama series. “We found Becoming Alabama to be an opportunity for partnership,” said Donna Cox Baker, the magazine’s editor. “In conjunction with the University of Alabama and the Alabama Tourism Department, we were able to develop a new department of articles written by graduate students. Each quarter, these pieces give our readers an eyewitness view of events that were unfolding 200, 150, and 50 years ago.” 
The Alabama Tourism Department commissioned a Becoming Alabama logo that was introduced by Bridges and designer Susan Gamble, a former Montgomery resident who has done extensive work for the U.S. Mint. The logo features a prominent figure from each of the three periods: Chief Menawa, a principal leader of the Red Stick Creeks; Confederate general Joseph Wheeler; and civil rights activist Rosa Parks. The Alabama Tourism Department will use the design in a series of commemorative medallions to be released in 2011, but the image is also being made freely available to Alabama organizations for use in promoting commemorative activities. A web site to be launched later this year will provide a timeline of historical events, a central listing of commemorative programs throughout the state, and links to local organizations. 
 For logo files and additional information on Becoming Alabama please see www.archives.alabama.gov/ba/.

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