Sunday, January 15, 2017

Preserve and Protect

President Obama's designation of additional National Monuments last week made little news, even locally, except for several that are significant historical sites of the Civil Rights movement, which the media could tie into Martin Luther King Day.

These include the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument which protects an historic hotel that served as the HQ for Civil Rights campaigns led by Martin Luther King, Jr.  Nearby are other sites where the Dark Side was manifested, including a Baptist church bombing and the park where the infamous police chief Bull Connor turned fire hoses and dogs on protestors.

The others are two sites comprising the Freedom Riders National Monument in Alabama, and four sites in the Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina.  More on these sites here.

These additions are characteristic of sites President Obama designated in that their historical significance has to do with the struggles of groups that suffered discrimination and injustice. According to the Washington Post: Those monuments include ones to Latino farmworkers in California; Japanese Americans placed in internment camps in Hawaii; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rioters at New York City’s Stonewall Inn; a stop along the Underground Railroad in Maryland; and ancestral Pueblo sites in Colorado and Utah.

Another set of sites protect large natural areas of land and water, but even many of these are related to oppressed groups and cultures, particularly Native American.  These include another California addition made in this week's group, the Cotoni-Coast Dairies parcel which extends from the Santa Cruz Mountains to terraces overlooking the Pacific.  These more than five thousand acres include Native American archaeological sites as well as stands of coastal redwoods.

I found a couple of round-ups of National Monuments that President Obama established or expanded, both with stunning photographs: from Mother Nature Network and CBS News.

No one knows how permanent these designation of permanent protection will be, but at least the declaration of intent is on the record...our record and President Obama's.

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