Several events mark 50th anniversary of church bombing


On September 6, President Obama signed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, who died 50 years ago when a bomb set by the Ku Klux Klan exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

UAB joins the city of Birmingham in hosting five days of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the bombing that took the lives of those four little girls and galvanized the civil rights movement. The combined events are dubbed "Empowerment Week."

September 11: A Day of Service - also commemorating the terrorist attacks of 2001 with a memorial and concert in Kelly Ingram Park

September 12: A Day of Reflection - featuring panels "Reaching Economic Justice" and "Building Tolerance," the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the premiere screening of "The Watsons Go to Birmingham" at the Alabama Theatre, and a concert in Linn Park

September 13: A Day of Restoration - featuring U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and members of the National Conference of Black Mayors, panels on the National, International, and Human Rights Impacts of Civil Rights, and Uptown Cityfest

September 14: A Day of Reconciliation - featuring Bill Cosby, Jamie Foxx, Jill Scott, and Charlie Wilson at the BJCC, a Diversity Fair, and the unveiling of the 4 Little Girls memorial statue outside the 16th Street Baptist Church

September 15: A Day of Commemoration - featuring Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a discussion moderated by UAB President Ray Watts, followed by a reading of the play "Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963" at UAB's Alys Stephens Center, Spike Lee and a screening of his documentary "4 Little Girls" at the Alabama Theatre, the Taste of Birmingham-Food Festival, and an "American Idols" concert featuring Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, and Jeremy Rosado in Railroad Park

More information about these Empowerment Week activities and others is available on the 50 Years Forward web site, detailing a year's worth of events commemorating Birmingham's role in the civil rights movement.