The Birmingham News offers tours featuring historic one-of-a-kind photos

Front cover of Birmingham News reporter Barnett Wright's book, "1963."

Front cover of Birmingham News reporter Barnett Wright’s book, “1963.”

Searching for camera equipment in 2004, Birmingham News photo intern Alexander Cohn came across a box marked, “Keep. Do Not Sell.” In that box were negatives showing images from Birmingham’s civil rights movement that unfolded not far from the newspaper’s front door. Cohn, now a photo editor at the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, spoke to me about his discovery. He said he knew what those images were, being from Birmingham, but there were plenty of shots he’d never seen before. The Birmingham News published the photos in 2006, and they were later turned into the exhibit, “Unseen. Unforgotten.”

Some of those images are featured in the book, “1963: How the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement Changed America and the World,” written by Birmingham News reporter Barnett Wright. Last Wednesday, Wright served as guide for the I AM GOING ALL THE WAY tour in the newspaper’s downtown offices. He regaled attendees with informative backstories as we toured the galleries that highlight photos from the “Unseen. Unforgotten.” exhibit; we also had a chance to tour parts of the newsroom as well. Wright pointed out the newspaper’s culpability in not prominently highlighting the movement. Wright said on the day after Birmingham schoolchildren took to the streets in protest of the city’s draconian Jim Crow laws, The Birmingham News published on its front page a story about a snake that refused to eat. “They didn’t want the world to see what was going on in their own city,” said Wright.

Fifty years after that pivotal year, the newspaper is welcoming dialogue that speaks on their past role and how they want to engage the community now. The public can take this free tour tomorrow, Wed., May 29 at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. Each tour lasts about an hour. Please contact Ed Fields at to sign up.

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