Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tree Planting in Kelly Ingram Park Heals Wounds of Intolerance and Injustice

Tree planting in Kelly Ingram ParkPictured in foreground from left to right with shovel: Sarah Collins Rudolph, Carolyn McKinstry, Sidni Smith and Max Herzel. Other program participants and planners are in the background. Several program committee members are not pictured but listed in the text of the release.

It was a perfect spring day for an outing in the park. Yet, the gathering in Kelly Ingram Park on Sunday, April 11 was no ordinary excursion. A diverse cross section of Birmingham gathered to dedicate a horse chestnut tree symbolic of the one a Jewish teen, Anne Frank, saw from her hiding place during the Holocaust. The inspiration for the project came from community leader Joel Rotenstreich. In June 2009, he learned that the Anne Frank Center in New York was giving eleven saplings from the original tree to cities in the United States—locations that had known discrimination and intolerance. Rotenstreich quickly assembled a committee to apply for a grant feeling that Birmingham was the perfect choice.

Though Birmingham was not selected to receive an original sapling, Joel and the committee were not deterred. On Sunday, April 11, 2010, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Committee, the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Committee, the Birmingham Public Library and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, with support from the City of Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board, dedicated their own horse chestnut tree. A plaque with Anne Frank’s words, "how wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” marks the tree’s location in the park. Sidni Smith, a student at Birmingham City School's Phillips Academy, shared in the celebration by reading a poem she wrote for the special occasion.

Please visit BPL's Press Room to read the press release about this event.

Upcoming April Brown Bag Lunch programs on the Holocaust are listed on Eventkeeper.

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