News / USA

Alabama Church Marks 50th Anniversary of Bombing

Rev. Julius Scruggs, second from left, leads people in prayer during a wreath laying ceremony at the 16th Street Baptist ChurchRev. Julius Scruggs, second from left, leads people in prayer during a wreath laying ceremony at the 16th Street Baptist Church
x
Rev. Julius Scruggs, second from left, leads people in prayer during a wreath laying ceremony at the 16th Street Baptist Church
Rev. Julius Scruggs, second from left, leads people in prayer during a wreath laying ceremony at the 16th Street Baptist Church
Hundreds of worshippers packed an Alabama church on Sunday to honor four young girls killed 50 years ago in a bombing by the Ku Klux Klan that became a defining moment in the U.S. civil rights movement.

Bells tolled at the precise moment the blast ripped through Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church, killing 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, along with 11-year-old Denise McNair.

Later, the Rev. Arthur Price taught the same Sunday school lesson on forgiveness that was heard the morning of the bombing.

President Barack Obama, in a written statement, called September 15, 1963 a "horrific day" for the city and the country that ultimately galvanized national support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That federal legislation outlawed discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion and gender. It also brought an end to so-called Jim Crow laws that enforced rigid segregation in much of the American South.

One of the Klansmen convicted years later in the bombing remains imprisoned. Two others died in prison.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Birmingham native who attended school with victim Denise McNair, headed a list of speakers set to participate in a Birmingham commemoration later in the day. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also was on hand.

The U.S. Congress last week posthumously awarded the victims the Congressional Gold Medal -- the highest honor bestowed on American civilians.

You May Like

Obama Pledges 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace Christmas precisely because of its non-religious glamor and commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid