Fifty years after a bomb ripped through a Sunday school, killing four girls and rocking a racially divided nation, the city of Birmingham, Ala., is commemorating the tragedy that led to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“It is a sad story, but there is a joy that came out of it,” said Sarah Collins Rudolph, who survived the blast at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Her 14-year-old sister, Addie Mae Collins, was among the victims of the Ku Klux Klan bomb.
Yesterday, the church’s bell tolled in remembrance of Collins, Denise McNair, 11, and Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, both 14.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holderand former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had been a childhood playmate of one of the victims, spoke at a ceremony focusing on the progress in race relations in the decades since.