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50 Years After The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The middle of last month, there was a week-long commemoration for the 50th anniversary of the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church:
16th Street Baptist Church 50 Year

As part of the commemoration, a new sculpture in memory of the four girls who were killed was dedicated across the street in Kelly Ingram Park.  The sculpture also mentions two boys who were killed later in the day in another part of town:
16th Street Baptist Church 50 Year

The church's bell had been brought to Washington a few days earlier for the ceremony where the girls were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.  On Sunday, September 15 at 10:22a, the bell was rung four times at the exact moment when the bomb went off 50 years earlier.  Av was there as part of the Jewish community contingent that was invited to the Sunday morning service.  Most of the public events were held later that day.  Av said that the family members of the four girls were in attendance and everyone filed out of the church just before 10:22a to hear the bell, and then the family members walked down the sidewalk to the outdoor memorial where the bomb was, and placed a wreath.
16th Street Baptist Church 50 Year

Rev. Price of 16th Street -- he was in Av's Leadership Birmingham class last year -- delivered a message entitled, 'The Love that Forgives' which was the title of the message that was going to be delivered 50 years earlier.  There is no known copy of the message from 50 years ago, though a lot of people have tried to find one.
16th Street Baptist Church 50 Year

Also speaking was Rev Jesse Jackson, among many others across the country who came for the commemorations.
16th Street Baptist Church 50 Year

Here is the ringing of the bell, and the wreath which was laid a few moments later:
16th Street Baptist Church 50 Year

Everyone filed back in for the rest of the service, which for the most part was a normal Sunday service:
16th Street Baptist Church 50 Year

I think this is Alan Collins talking with Rev Jackson here, the gentleman to the right looking away is Doug Jones who was the prosecutor in the most recent trials that convicted those responsible for bombing the church.  Av has spoken with Doug Jones about the attempted bombing of Temple Beth-El in 1958.
16th Street Baptist Church 50 Year
Part of Rev Jackson's remarks that day included how great it was to see black and white athletes for Alabama on the field in Texas the day before, but come Monday, there still were no black members of the white sororities on campus.  Afterwards, Av spoke with Rev Jackson and told him that there was one white sorority that regularly admitted black members -- the Jewish one.  Rev Jackson patted Av on the back, had a big smile, and said, "G-d bless you!".

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