U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice at UAB

By on September 16, 2013
US Attorney General, Eric Holder


Addie Mae Collins. Denise McNair. Carole Robertson. Cynthia Wesley.

These four girls sparked a revolution that has forever changed Birmingham.
“It’s an opportunity to reflect both on the tragedy of the 1963 Birmingham, but also on the triumph on the national movement that was endowed upon us,” states President Ray Watts.

Dr. Watts was the moderator for the discussion between Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. With over 1,000 people in attendence, public officials and community members alike came to celebrate the remembrance of such an important Birmingham memory.

At 10:22 a.m., Sunday morning, 1963, a nearby church blew up and four girls were killed in the process.

Holder recounts how life in Birmingham was indeed a lot different than his hometown in New York. Discrimination was more subtle in the North, so the events seemed unreal and horrific to a young child.

“It was inexplicable. This was a church bombing – which in and of itself was disturbing – but four little girls lost their lives,” said Holder.

Rice is a Birmingham native, raised in Titusville, has stronger connections to the incident.
“I still have a picture of my dad giving Denise [McNair] her kindergarten certificate,” said Rice.

“I remember that we went to church early that day, like we normally would, and I felt the whole room shake.”


United States Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice discuss civil rights and the September 15th bombings at the 16tth Street Baptist Church 50 years ago at the Alys Stephens Center, moderated by UAB President Dr. Ray L. Watts.

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