Adding on to my earlier post, it’s a great day for those of us who claim to be preservationists. As reported in today’s Birmingham News, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church will be added to the National Register of Historic Places during a ceremony on Monday taking place at the church. The building not only serves as one of the most important sites of the civil rights movement, it also represents the work of someone that needs to be recognized in the African American community, not just during Black History Month, but all year long.Wallace A. Rayfield served as the chair of the architecture department at Tuskegee Institute and as the designer of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Despite the fact that some of his buildings no longer stand, it is important to recognize the amount of work that this Georgia born architect created. Two brilliant examples of his work are currently being preserved in very different ways. Sixteenth Street is in the midst of a stabilization campaign, while 32nd Street Baptist Church, located in the Lakeview section, is being converted into residential lofts. Rayfield’s work is found all over the world, from Chicago, IL to Kenya. He is recognized as the first Black architect to practice in Alabama, despite having never been registered with the state. He also served at one point as a professor at Tuskegee Institute.
This is a great honor to be bestowed upon a building that has meant so much to the lives of many African Americans in the city of Birmingham and supporters of civil rights around the world. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. and it is scheduled to be quite brief. So get there early.
For those of you who don’t know, and I still think there are plenty that don’t, ESPN has scheduled an exhibition game set in 1948 between the Bristol Barnstormers and your Birmingham Black Barons. The game is set for a 3 p.m. first pitch at the friendly confines of Rickwood Field on Sunday, February 26. The game is also scheduled to be broadcast live on ESPN Classic. A portion of the proceeds from the game are scheduled to benefit the Alabama Negro League Association, benefiting those former Negro League players living in the state. The ballpark is one of the hidden gems in this city and the cause is great.