If you missed this year’s moving and inspirational speaker, please visit this link to watch.
Survivor of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963, Barbara Cross is Keynote Speaker for Diversity Council’s 2017 MLK, Jr. Breakfast
MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2017; 7:30 AM
The Golf Club at Yankee Trace
Barbara Cross, a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, spoke at the Centerville-Washington Diversity Council’s (CWDC) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast on Monday, January 16, 2017 at the Golf Club at Yankee Trace.
Described by Dr. King as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity,” the bombing killed four little girls attending Sunday school and injured 22 others.
At the time, Birmingham was a tense, violent and racially segregated city. Ms. Cross’s father, Rev. John Cross, was pastor of the church that had become a rallying point for civil rights activities.
On the morning of September 15, four members of the United Klans of America planted 15 sticks of dynamite under the steps of the church. The explosion killed four girls: Addie Mae Collins 14; Carol Denise McNair 11; Carole Robertson 14; and Cynthia Wesley 14.
Ms. Cross, 13 years old at the time, had attended the same Sunday School class as the four girls on the day of the bombing. The theme of the class that day was how to react to physical injustice.
She testified as a prosecution witness in the 2002 trial of Bobby Frank Cherry and said that she would have accompanied her friends into the basement lounge to change into choir robes for the sermon, but said she had been given an assignment. She was struck on the head by debris and was slightly injured by the explosion.
She and her father, who testified in trials against the members of the Klu Klux Klan, later received commemorative pins from the FBI in recognition of the role they played in the prosecution
The bombing introduced a new level of infamy to Birmingham and changed the course of Ms. Cross’s life. Already on edge from the ongoing racial tension, the city drew attention from around the globe. She has shared her historical perspective and survivor experience with audiences nationwide.
Worldwide awareness and sympathy towards the civil rights cause increased after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, the Freedom Riders, the March on Washington and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1963.
The mission of the CWDC is to celebrate and promote an inclusive, diverse and welcoming community for people who live, work, and worship in Centerville and Washington Township. The council is comprised of nearly 60 representatives from community organizations as well as a cross-section of various races, ages, sexual orientations and physical abilities.
The Centerville-Washington Diversity Council is currently seeking new members who are interested in helping further the mission of promoting an inclusive and welcoming community. Membership is free. Interested in becoming a member? Call 937/885-9530.
For more information about the Council and this event, please view this episode of Centerville Reports Today.
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Bob & Berneta Daley