A number of mayors from around the country are in Birmingham as part of Empowerment Week.
They also joined Mayor William Bell for a series of panel discussions on the impact of the Civil Rights movement and specifically what happened at the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.
"We are here today to honor and celebrate the memory of four little girls who lost their lives here, but whose death at the hands of a domestic terrorist has helped change the course of our country, and will do so for many years going forward," Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, Cali., said.
"Four little girls died, but hundreds of millions of Americans are living better lives today as a result," Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia, Pa., said.
"Fifty years ago, people saw differences as deficencies. Today as a business person who happens to be mayor and my fellow mayors, we stand here know differences as strength. As critical building blocks to grow our international competitiveness, and our educational competitiveness at the same time," Greg Fisher, mayor of Louisville, Ky., said.
Mayor Bell used some of his strongest language to date about the importance of schools.
"We must become actively involved in the educational process of all of our children. And make sure they understand who they are, what they are, and where they are going," Bell said.
But their focus was also on looking forward as they unveiled a 10-point plan to fight racism and discrimination.
Some of the mayors are expected to stay through the weekend to participate in the rest of Empowerment Week.
Several streets will also be closed during these events:
6th Avenue North between 15th Street North and 17th Street North
15th Street North between 5th Avenue North and 6th Avenue North
16th Street North between 4th Avenue North and 6th Avenue North
17th Street North between 5th Avenue North and 6th Avenue North
These streets will re-open at 6 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16.
Check out the many special events for this week:
Wednesday, Sept. 11:
9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Volunteers take part in Day of Service projects.
3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. Local musical acts take the stage in Kelly Ingram Park.
6 p.m. to 8 p.m. TBN Concert at Kelly Ingram Park with Donny McClurkin, CeCe Winans, Clifton Davis
Thursday, Sept. 12:
9 a.m. - noon Morning panels "Reaching Economic Justice" and "Building Tolerance" at 16th Street Baptist Church
1:45 p.m. - 3 p.m. Panel on Civil Rights/Legal Impact at 16th Street Baptist Church
3:10 p.m. - 4:25 p.m. Panel on Civil Rights/Education at 16th Street Baptist Church
5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Premiere screening of "The Watsons Go to Birmingham: Road Trip of a Lifetime" at the Alabama Theatre
8 p.m. - 10 p.m. "A Walk to Freedom: We Remember" concert at Linn Park
Friday, Sept. 13:
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Panel on Civil Rights/National Impact, composed of U.S. Congressional Representatives lead by Rep. Terri Sewell at 16th Street Baptist Church
1 p.m. - 3:10 p.m. Panel on Civil Rights/International Impact by Dr. Condoleezza Rice at 16th Street Baptist Church and simulcast from Regions Bank
3:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. Panel on Civil Rights/Human Right Impact at 16th Street Baptist Church
7 p.m. - 10 p.m. U.S. Conference of Mayors Uptown Cityfest at Uptown Entertainment District
Saturday, Sept. 14:
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Street Diversity Fair at the BJCC and 9th Avenue
Noon A discussion with Bill Cosby at the BJCC
8 p.m. BBVA Compass Concert for Human Rights with Jamie Foxx, Jill Scott and Charlie Wilson at the BJCC
Sunday, Sept. 15:
Noon Premiere of 4 Little Girls documentary hosted by Spike Lee at the Alabama Theatre
3 p.m. Commemorative program for the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing at the church
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Birmingham Originals' Taste of Birmingham Food Festival on First Avenue South
5 p.m. - 7 p.m. The Power Hour with Rod Parsley and Pastor Greg Matthews at Kelly Ingram Park
6:30 p.m. American Idols Concert with Taylor Hicks and guests at Railroad Park
8 p.m. Alabama Symphony, Red Mountain Theatre Company and other in concert at Railroad Park
9 p.m. Closing ceremony with fireworks show at Railroad Park
For more information on the 50 Years Forward effort, please visit http://50yearsforward.com/events/.
To learn more about the worship events Sunday at 16th Street Baptist Church, please visit http://www.16thstreetbaptist.org/.
Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.
1720 Valley View Drive