Since January, when Councilman Tommy Dawson suggested the city find a way to pay tribute to Rosa Parks' role in starting the civil rights movement, city staff has been working on plans to do just that, and more.
Current plans would not only honor the Montgomery activist, but would also memorialize the history of Auburn's African-American community.
The idea is to build a two-room building, modeled after an old Rosenwald School, with one room dedicated to Rosa Parks and the other to a museum showcasing the city's African-American heritage.
"(Staff) has spent a great deal of time looking at some options on how we can address not only honoring the history of African-Americans in the city of Auburn and in this general area, but also how we can honor the late Rosa Parks and also this whole idea of the Rosenwald School — how that can play into the museum site," said Community Services Director Al Davis, who has been heavily involved in the project. "We have identified a piece of property and have had some preliminary discussions with the owner, and we'll see where that goes."
The property the city hopes to acquire is located in Northwest Auburn, said City Manager Jim Buston. If negotiations are successful, staff hopes to bring its proposal to the council soon, Davis said.
Buston mentioned that one aspect of the project would include it being a community effort.
"The whole idea is to have the community come together and kind of do a barn-raising," he said. "It'll be an effort of the community. We'll say, 'On these days, we're going to do this, so everybody come' — kind of like they do for Habitat for Humanity."
The city also hopes to partner with the local school system in some capacity, so that students take field trips to the museum on Rosa Parks Day and teachers work into their curriculum the local African-American history. Buston said the city has yet to have discussions with school administration.
Dawson thanked Davis for his efforts on the project.
"I appreciate your work on that," he said. "I think you're heading in the right direction. I'd like to see some local stuff in the museum from our local history in Northwest Auburn."
When he first suggested a Rosa Parks tribute, Dawson stressed his desire that it be educational — a place for young students to learn about history.
"I think we stand a danger in this country of forgetting some of the sacrifices that have been made by our ancestors in the past, and I'd like to see a learning environment where (students) can be taught what exactly (Rosa Parks) did and how hard she worked to kick off the civil rights movement," he said in January.