Anne Frank tree
The Anne Frank tree is a European Horse-chestnut (Aesculus Hippocastanum) planted at Kelly Ingram Park in 2010 in honor of Dutch diarist Anne Frank and as a memorial to all who have suffered or died as a result of hatred and discrimination.
The memorial was originally proposed in 2009 by Birmingham Civil Rights Institute board member Joel Rotenstreich. He had learned that saplings descended from the Horse-chestnut in Amsterdam that inspired Frank through her years of hiding would be distributed to 11 sites in the United States by the Anne Frank Center USA.
Rotenstreich assembled an alliance of the BCRI, the Jewish Community Relations Committee, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, Birmingham Public Library, and 16th Street Baptist Church Foundation to apply for one to be planted at Birmingham's Kelly Ingram Park, dedicated as "a place of revolution and reconciliation".
The site was not selected for one of the Amsterdam saplings. Unswayed, Rotenstreich obtained a specimen of the same species of tree and, with help from the Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board and James Horton of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, oversaw its placement in the park with an accompanying plaque. The inscription quotes Anne Frank's diary entry of March 26, 1944: "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
A dedication program, entitled "Roots of Courage, Branches of Hope" was held on April 11, 2010 with speeches by holocaust survivor Max Herzel and 1963 church bombing survivor Carolyn McKinstry. Jefferson County 8th graders submitted poems to a contest, from which Phillips Academy student Sidni Smith's, "The Roots in You", was chosen to be read aloud.
The original tree in Amsterdam was damaged by fungal rot and succumbed to a storm on August 23, 2010. A total of eleven saplings from the original specimen were distributed by the Anne Frank Center USA. The White House in Washington D.C., the World Trade Center site in New York City, and the Children's Museum of Indianapolis were the first sites selected. The other eight, chosen by competition, include: Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts; holocaust centers in Seattle, Washington and Farmington Hills, Michigan; a statue of Frank in Boise, Idaho; Sonoma State University in Sonoma, California; the Southen Cayuga Central School District in Cayuga County, New York; and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- "Tree of Remembrance: Birmingham Groups Gather to Plant Anne Frank Tree" (April 1, 2010) Southern Jewish Life
- Garrison, Greg (April 10, 2010) "Horse chestnut tree planting in civil rights park recalls Anne Frank, Holocaust." The Birmingham News
- "Tree Planting Heals Wounds of Intolerance and Justice" (April 20, 2010) Birmingham Public Library press release - accessed January 31, 2013
- Edgemon, Erin (February 5, 2017) "Story behind Birmingham's Anne Frank Tree should be shared through national monument, local leader says." The Birmingham News
- Photographs from the Anne Frank tree dedication by Barry C. Altmark