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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Trade Talks Could Heat Up in 2015

With boosting trade a top priority for the Obama administration, 2015 may be the year that an agreement is finally reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership. But the trade deal, which is intended to boost trade between 12 Pacific countries, faces opposition as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
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 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

All About America

AppleAndroid