United States: 60 years later, Birmingham commemorates the bombing of its Baptist church

In 1963, the death of four African-American girls aged 11 to 14 in a Ku Klux Klan bombing of their church in Birmingham, Alabama, was one of the darkest episodes in the fight for black equality in the United States. Sixty years later, this segregated city invited the first African-American Supreme Court judge for its commemorations.

Participants at the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 2023 in Birmingham. AP - Butch Dill

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With our special envoy on site, David Thomson

In front of this church symbol of civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama, Eloise Halliburton struggles to hold back her emotion. 60 years ago today, in this same church, his cousin Denise was one of four African-American girls killed in a bomb planted by Ku Klux Klan men. At 78, she has never forgotten. "We grew up with her. She had a leadership temperament with a real artistic fiber, she recalls. She loved to sit and draw people.


Behind her in the queue, Floyd Escott, 73, this African-American grandfather remembers the attack as if it were yesterday. At the time of the explosion, he was 10 years old and inside the church for his catechism class. "I was in the church and I heard the bomb explode. Sixty years later, it still brings back a lot of memories, he says. Memories of this hatred of whites against blacks for no reason at all. That is why we are here today. It is very important that people do not forget.


« To learn from the mistakes of the past, it is still necessary to know that they existed » 

And not to forget, it is the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who celebrates the tribute to the four little girls on the altar of the Baptist Church on 16th Street. Quite a symbol of how far America has come.

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman to sit on the nation's highest court, speaks at the 60th commemoration, Friday, September 15, 2023, in Birmingham. AP - Butch Dill


To learn from the mistakes of the past, it is still necessary to know that they existed " she said. A message sent directly to conservative states that are multiplying laws to ban from schools the teaching of the racist past of the United States.

" READ ALSO Racial discrimination in the United States: "The law has evolved but mentalities take time to evolve"

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  • United States
  • Society
  • Racism