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ASU Awarded $800,000 for New Voting Rights Interpretive Center

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Release Date: Jul 05, 2013

ASU has received an $800,000 grant from the state of Alabama to help the University build a new Voting Rights Interpretive Center.

The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University has received $800,000 in new grant money to assist in the construction of the third and final Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights Interpretive Center, which will be located on ASU’s campus.

The state of Alabama awarded the grant, which will help fund a National Parks Service-managed museum showcasing the history of the 1965 Voting Rights campaign.

”Although Alabama State University is the site of the Interpretive Center, the facility will be celebrated and shared throughout the world; so, we’re excited to have these partnerships on the city, state and federal levels in support of this most worthwhile project,” said Dr. Janice R. Franklin, director of the National Center. “The funding and other support that we’ve received indicates the partnerships that have been established to help ensure that Alabama’s voting rights story is told for generations to come. It also helps to propel us significantly forward in our work with the National Parks Service as we prepare for the 50th anniversary of the voting rights march.”

In addition to the latest grant, the University also is in line to receive a $1.2 million grant from the Alabama Department of Conservation, which is awaiting final approval from an oversight committee.

The National Center also has applied for a $500,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation to fund the initial infrastructure improvements needed for the Interpretive Center. The Center held a public hearing on the grant on June 27.

The improvements will include construction of on-road and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized forms of transportation, including sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian lighting, downtown streetscape (combination of sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and landscaping), and other transportation projects to achieve compliance with the American Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Interpretive Center is expected to cost $15 to $20 million, ASU officials said.

ASU President William H. Harris said the University is delighted to be part of the historic trail.

“(The National Parks Service) has selected a site that is accessible, located adjacent to I-85 and near the historic homes of Nat King Cole and the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy,” said Harris. “We will develop a project that will be engaging and will encourage all people to come to hear the story of a movement that forever changed the United States of America and to hear how Alabama and particularly Montgomery had a place in that change.”

The National Trails System is a network of scenic, historic and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968. The system falls under the direction of the National Parks Service.

The 54-mile Selma-to-Montgomery Trail begins in Selma, winds its way through Lowndes County and into the state’s capitol, reflecting the steps of the more than 25,000 foot soldiers who made the journey in 1965.

The National Parks Service already operates Voting Rights Interpretive Centers in Selma and Lowndes County.  The Montgomery location would be the third leg of the federally designated Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail.

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