16th Street Baptist Church Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Bombing


(left to right: Spike Lee, Sharon Malone, Atty Gen. Eric Holder, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Rev. Jessie Jackson, Josephine Scruggs, Candie A. Price, Mayor William A. Bell, Sharon Bell, Ambassador Andrew Young and Dr. Bernice King participate in 50th Commemoration of 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, AL Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 (AP Photo)

The Historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, most known for the September 15, 1963 bombing of the church by members of the Ku Klux Klan that killed 4 young girls, commemorated their lives on September 15, 2013.

The day was devoted to remembering Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Morris Wesley, and Carole Robertson in two worship services. Dr. Julius Scuggs, President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., gave a stirring sermon at the 11:00 a.m. worship service.  “God said you may murder four little girls, but you won’t murder the dream of justice and liberty for all. You may murder four little girls, but I will make them my four angels of change. Those who planted the bomb had their plan backfire against them. What they meant for evil, God meant for good. What looked like tragedy, God turned it into triumph, “ preached Scruggs.

A community worship service was held at 3:00 p.m. and included speeches by Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, Sr., Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Alabama Governor Robert BentleyAmbassador Andrew Young, and U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder.  Also present were Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow Coalition, Rev. Joseph Lowery, SCLC, Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and President of The King CenterKevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, CA, and former NBA basketball star, and Spike Lee, Actor/Director.

Thousands were in attendance at both services with standing room only.  Large screens were set up at Kelly Ingram Park for the thousands who could not physically fit in the church sanctuary.

“The many hues and backgrounds that converged on this sacred spot to commemorate the precious lives of Addie Mae, Denise, Cynthia and Carole, speak to the reconciliation and forgiveness that is possible within our world.  We have come a long way yet we have a ways to go.  We cannot become complacent regarding equality and justice in our societies, but may we never be where we were 50 years ago that created an environment for such an atrocity to happen,” said Rev. Arthur Price, Jr., Pastor.

More about 16th Street Baptist Church:

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the chosen venue for the organization of mass meetings and demonstrations during the turbulent 1960s in Birmingham, Alabama.  On September 15, 1963 the church was bombed, killing four young girls, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson..  This act of terrorism shocked the world and galvanized the American Civil Rights Movement.  Today Sixteenth Street, a vibrant and thriving ministry, continues to tell its story of redemption, forgiveness and hope to thousands of visitors worldwide.  For more information about the church and/or tour schedules, go to www.16thstreetbaptist.org or call (205) 251-9402.

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