16th Street Baptist Church, And 50 YearsMonday, January 14, 2013
In November, Av attended a special event with Danny Ayalon, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. I asked him to take tons of pics for me, as I hadn't been inside since several years ago when we were in the audience for Brian Williams' NBC News show they broadcast as a town meeting forum from here.
Of course, the church is famous for a tragic event: the 1963 bombing that resulted ending the lives of four girls...Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair. The bomb injured almost two dozen others.
There's a memorial in another part of the building, and on one wall is a clock with a plaque: 'This clock was located in the main sanctuary of the church. It stopped at 10:22am, the time of the bombing, September 15, 1963' (they ask that people not take pictures of this particular memorial space).
After the bombing, people from all over sent in what accumulated to be more than $300k. Here is what has to be to most beautiful stained glass window in the city...a gift from the citizens of Wales to the church, placed upstairs in the balcony:
The day Av was there for Danny Ayalon to place a wreath at the spot where the bomb had gone off. Here he is with the mayor:
Danny Ayalon was presented with a print of the church by Reverend Price (to the right, below), and in turn he gave a gift that was in a Hazorfim box (I just asked Av and he said it was a silver pomegranate -- Av was back inside the building after the event and Rev Price came up and asked Av what it signified (among others, the 613 mitzvot/commandments in the Bible)).
This year, the city of Birmingham has events in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham civil rights movement.
Later this week, Av is meeting with an Israeli composer who is working on a piece (from al.com):
Titled “A More Convenient Season,” the 75-minute work by composer Yotam Haber will bring together the Alabama Symphony, UAB Gospel Choir and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Children’s Choir at the Alys Stephens Center. It will incorporate archival footage and photographs, sound recordings from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Oral History Project and texts from FBI reports and trial transcripts.
The work is being co-commissioned by UAB, the Stephens Center and arts philanthropist Tom Blount, and will receive its first performance on Sept. 21, 2013, six days after the 50th anniversary of the bombing. An additional performance by the CalArts Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in Los Angeles is being planned for 2014.