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New monument honoring Foot Soldiers

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It's a picture of the movement that defined the City of Birmingham. A new monument will soon represent the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement - unsung heroes whose efforts helped lead our state and nation.

In just a year's time, a new monument will sit in Kelly Ingram Park. A design competition will choose exactly how Foot Soldiers will be portrayed. It will sit adjacent to the 16th Street Baptist Church – a place that played a key role in the Movement.

"A foot soldier means one who was actually involved in trying to change the mentality of this city," Bishop Calvin Woods, A Civil Rights Leader said.

Their names weren't in headlines, no awards or honors to their name, but their dedication led a nation.

"The ones who often times went nameless, the ones who often times bore the brunt of the fire hoses and the dogs and we felt it was important to find a way to recognize the contributions that those individuals made," Mayor William Bell, Birmingham said.

One of those soldiers, is Carolyn Mckinstry, who as a child, survived the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church.

"I passed the girls, went upstairs, reached the top of the stairs, answered the phone, stepped out into the sanctuary and that's when the bomb exploded," McKinstry said. "I was 15. It began to look like they were out to kill as many people of color as they could."

Four of her friends died that day, but Civil Rights leaders tell us, it was that moment that sparked a new passion in the Movement. And in this year of it's 50th anniversary, she hopes Dr. King's dream will come to the forefront.

"What would really be wonderful for this 50th year is if we could celebrate that all of those things don't happen anymore," McKinstry said. "That we don't have bombings anymore, that we've replaced hatred with love."

"Now they know that the struggle that they engaged in, the blows and the brutality that they endured was not in vain," Shirley Gavin Floyd, Civil Rights Activist committee said.

The monument will be made out of steel. This is a national competition and the winner will be chosen this Fall. The monument is set to be built in 2014.  

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