BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ Birmingham residents laid wreaths Friday and planned memorial services this weekend to mark the 49th anniversary of a church bombing that killed four black children in one of the worst acts of violence during the civil rights movement.
About 80 people gathered Friday in Kelly Ingram park to remember the four children killed when members of the Ku Klux Klan bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Two other black youths were killed in violence later that tense day.
``Sometimes tragedies have to happen for us to unite,'' Myrna Jackson, first vice president of the Metro Birmingham NAACP, said at the rally, according to The Birmingham News (http://bit.ly/R6nDoI). ``Don't fool yourself into thinking all is well, because it's not. We're on our way but we're not quite there.''
The bomb exploded just before a Sunday worship service on Sept. 15, 1963, killing Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair. Two more black youths, Virgil Ware and Johnny Robinson, were shot to death later that day.
The attack came as civil rights demonstrators were trying end to segregation in Birmingham schools and other areas. Three members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted years later in the bombing.
The church that was attacked scheduled a special service Saturday and planned to ring bells at 10:22 a.m., the moment the bomb detonated.
A larger commemoration is planned next year for the 50th anniversary of the bombing. National Baptist Convention President Julius Scruggs is scheduled to speak at a morning service on Sept. 15, 2013. There will also be an afternoon service and a candlelight vigil.
``We'll look back 50 years and see if reconciliation is really possible,'' said the church's pastor, Arthur Price.
Information from: The Birmingham News, http://www.al.com/birminghamnews
Articles in Diversity News @ DiversityEmployers.com copyrighted by the Associated Press.