News / USA

DC Students Pay Tribute to 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing

DC Students Pay Tribute to 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing i
X
September 12, 2013 4:19 PM
Fifty years ago, the racially motivated bombing of an African American church in Birmingham, Alabama killed four little girls. The attack became a milestone in the American civil rights movement and galvanized support for the equal rights campaign. Chris Simkins reports.
Chris Simkins
Fifty years ago, the racially motivated bombing of an African American church in Birmingham, Alabama killed four little girls. The attack became a milestone in the American civil rights movement and galvanized support for the equal rights campaign. 
 
At The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, students pay tribute to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, who were attending Sunday school at the 16th Street Baptist Church and died in the September 15, 1963 blast. 
 
Cast members said the choral performance tells the stories of the young victims and remembering this pivotal moment in the civil rights movement can bring greater understanding and awareness of the sacrifices so many made for equal rights.
 
"I learned of the dreams that these girls had,” said Jayme Lawson, a cast member of the school’s production. “They were each individually their own person, and they wanted to do different things. They had aspirations."
 
The church was a gathering place for civil rights organizers.  White supremacists determined to slow the movement carried out the bombing.  The tragedy emotionally shattered the Rev. Martin Luther King.
 
Birmingham civil rights activist Jeff Drew, King's nephew, was also distraught. Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley were his friends.
 
"These little girls, my classmates, my friends whom I had grown up with, their lives were just snuffed away because somebody hated the color of their skin,” said Drew.  “How stupid!"
 
The attack occurred just weeks after the huge March on Washington and King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The bombing shook the nation. 
 
"It was one of the most saddest days that I can remember in my life," said Shirley Gavin Floyd who lost her classmate Addie Mae Collins. "Kids in the auditorium just started crying, and it was just a sad day. And for a whole week, everywhere you went people were crying."
 
Five decades later, President Barack Obama signed legislation posthumously awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the young victims.
 
Pieces of stained glass from the church were donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History by the children of a white Baptist minister, Norman Jimerson, who gathered up ruins from the church as evidence. He was criticized by white colleagues for attending the funerals of the victims.
 
"By keeping the glass and having that within his own possession for many years was part of a reconciliation process, hoping that this symbol of violence and conflict could also be a part of the healing process for people of both races," said Jimerson’s son Randall.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid