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Birmingham prepares to mark 60th anniversary of church bombing

by Chanel Rowe
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Originally Published: 11 SEP 23 15:54 ET

By Chip Scarborough

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    BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WVTM) — This week will mark a somber milestone in Birmingham’s civil rights history. It’s been 60 years since the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church that left four young girls dead.

“We were afraid,” Bishop Calvin Woods recalled. “We were shaken up.”

Woods helped lead countless movements for equal rights during the civil rights era. He certainly remembers the deadly 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, just two weeks after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington.

“Trying to stop the forward movement of God and his love for all mankind,” Woods said. “It was very, very tragic.”

Bishop Woods remembers other bombings around the same time at homes and other places where foot soldiers met. However, he says the church bombing was different.

“That was the first place where we had knowledge of somebody being killed,” Woods added. “Killed those girls.”

The bombing didn’t stop the mission at hand.

“We had to continue on, whether it meant life or death.” Woods said.

Not too far from the 16th Street Baptist Church, a panel discussion at The Ballard House on Sunday afternoon. It’s a place where people of color could meet during the civil rights movement and strategize.

“It’s important for all of us to recognize that this is part of our shared history,” The Ballard House executive director Majella Chube Hamilton said. “The shared history of the Birmingham community and we all must play a role in making sure that this community continues to thrive and making sure that all of its population of people thrives.”

The Ballard House even served as an emergency medical treatment site for foot soldiers. Dr. Eidward Ballard lived and worked in the home before selling it to Dr. Herschell Hamilton, Sr. It sits just a few blocks from the site of the deadly church bombing. A bombing that still haunts many to this day.

“Three of the little girls were very close family, personal friends,” retired Judge Houston Brown said. “And to lose them in one act of racism and hatred like they went was horrific and very traumatic. It was years before I could even speak about it, talk about it.”

Something Brown says it’s still hard even to this day.

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