16th Street Baptist Church victims remembered ahead of Congressi

16th Street Baptist Church victims remembered ahead of Congressional honor

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Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Dozens of people joined together at Kelley Ingram Park Thursday afternoon to commemorate the Birmingham Civil Rights 50th Anniversary.

"We believe joining together that it's important to have civil right, equal rights and union rights," said J. David Cox with the American Federation of Government Employees.

Members traveled from as far as the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

All of them came to Birmingham to commemorate the 50th anniversary remember the tragic death of the four African-American girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Celestine Hood and her sister, Rosena Robinson, were only teenagers when the tragic bombing happened.

"I can remember us leaving school. Being put in jail. I can remember the fire hoses. I can remember the dogs. I can remember the people on the sidelines spitting on us," Hood said.

Thursday's gathering brought a sense of pride from the group's unity but it was also a bittersweet moment.

"A sense of freedom, relief. It brought back the struggle from the 60's," Hood said.

Those memories were quickly filled with joy. Friday, President Barack Obama will sign Bill HR 360 into law. It will posthumously award the four girls killed with the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Mayor William Bell will fly to the nation's capitol to watch the bill signed into law.

"It sends a message that Birmingham is not the city that we once was. That we've made progress and that we have also effected the rest of the world in what took place in 1963," Bell said.

"[President Obama] signing this bill today for those girls to get the Congressional Medal of Honor, one of the highest honors you can get in the United States, it means a lot of me that we have come full circle," said Celestine.

Mayor Bell will leave at Friday morning for Washington, D.C. The bill will be signed into law at 2:15 EST.

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