Barbara Cross and Junie Collins Williams, two female survivors of the historical 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, will speak at 5 p.m. Aug. 31 in Shenango Auditorium of Penn State-Shenango, Sharon.
The event marks the 50th anniversary of the infamous bombing at 10:22 a.m. Sept. 15, 1963, when a homemade bomb exploded at the church, killing four young girls and injuring several others.
Many of the civil rights protest marches that took place in Birmingham during the 1960s began at the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which had long been a significant religious center for the city's black population and a routine meeting place for civil rights organizers like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Cross, who was 13 at the time, lost four of her friends that day, and her father, the pastor, watched as part of his church crumbled before his eyes.
Williams was not only good friends of the girls who had died, she was the sister of 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins.
After years of silence and healing, Williams began telling her story to a new generation, appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," "The View," in People magazine, and on colleges and universities across the country.
"Today's youth are taking for granted the rights hard-won by the civil rights movement," says Williams.
"As time progresses there are fewer witnesses to the events that shaped the term African American. I am that eyewitness. I feel compelled to tell the story. We must share a story to motivate young people to make a difference in their corner of the planet."
Cross and Williams will also speak at 5 p.m. Sept. 1 at Hour of Power Full Gospel Tabernacle in Farrell.
Info: Rev. Jennifer L. Campbell, 724-685-6406, or Liz Izenas, 724-983-2906.
Published Aug. 17, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.