As I have been going to my church Central Christian Church since I was a six-year-old little girl, my church is one of my safe places…Some of my best moments I have experienced in my church (I got married there 🙂 )…And when I was teased in middle school or the boys I liked in high school didn’t like me back, it was the one place outside of my family home where I felt accepted, cherished and loved just for being me…All of the members are part of my extended family…Of all places, a church building should be a refuge, the place where we meet Jesus, who is the embodiment of love…That’s why it’s hard to imagine that 50 years ago today, members of the Ku Klux Klan, planted a bomb at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and killed four girls, Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14.
In fact, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who herself was a little girl, 8, at the time, lived in Birmingham and one of the little girls that was murdered was her friend. Below is an excerpt from a Huffington Post article in which Rice recalls the bombing…
But for Rice, just 8 years old at the time, the tragedy meant the death of a little girl she used to play dolls with, and the loss of her own youthful sense of security.
“As an 8-year-old, you don’t think about terror of this kind,” said Rice, who recounted on Friday her memory of the bombing and its aftermath in remarks to a gathering of civic leaders in Birmingham as part of several days of events leading up to the 50th anniversary of the bombing on Sept. 15.
Rice’s hometown had become a place too dangerous for black children to leave their own neighborhoods, or go downtown and visit Santa Claus, or go out of the house after dark.
“There was no sanctuary. There was no place really safe,” she said.
Rice’s friend, 11-year-old Denise McNair, died in the blast along with 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley. Their deaths at the hands of Ku Klux Klan members garnered national support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Events for the 50th anniversary of the bombing will include a screening of filmmaker Spike Lee’s new documentary, “Four Little Girls,” and a memorial service on Sunday scheduled to include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
To read the rest of the article, go to “Condoleezza Rice recalls Birmingham Bombing That Killed Childhood Friend.”
As I heard on a radio program last week, if Condoleezza Rice grew up to be the Secretary of State of this great country, there is no telling what contributions those little girls could have made to this country and this world…
Here in Atlanta, we will also be remembering those four little girls. Directed by Afemo and Elisabeth Omilami (daughter of civil rights leader Hosea Williams), FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963, a play written by playwright Christina Ham, will be performed today at 6 p.m. in the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College. This is a FREE event!
Below is more information about the play from a press release.
FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 examines the realities of a segregated and politically-charged climate through the life of children during the fight to end racial discrimination and inequality. In the play, the four little girls—Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, who attended the church share their hopes and dreams about the future against the backdrop of the Movement. Yet, each child’s dreams abruptly end with the world-changing act of hatred on that fateful day of September 15, 1963.
This reading is part of Project1Voice’s nation-wide, simultaneous event of staged readings commemorating this seminal event in American history, which helped to galvanize the American Civil Rights Movement only weeks after the historic March on Washington where Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The readings will feature a multi-generational cast of national and local theater, television, and film actors. For a full list of locations across the country, please visit www.project1voice.org.
Commissioned and originally produced by SteppingStone Theatre, FOUR LITTLE GIRLS: Birmingham 1963 examines the lives of Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and, Cynthia Wesley. The production delves into their hopes and dreams about “what they want to be when they grow up,” against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. While Denise dreams of becoming a doctor, Carole looks forward to the dress she will one day wear at the cotillion, Cynthia imagines her life as a mathematics professor at the local university, and Addie Mae envisions a life as a professional baseball player.
Below is a video about the performance of the play at the University of Alabama Birmingham…