BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, will speak in Alabama next month at an event marking the 60th anniversary of a church bombing that killed four girls in 1963.
Jackson will give the keynote address at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, at a Sept. 15 event marking the anniversary, city officials announced.
The girls were gathered in a downstairs bathroom of the church on Sept. 15, 1963, when a bomb planted by KKK members went off outside under a set of stairs. The blast killed Denise McNair, 11, and three 14-year-olds: Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins, whose sister, Sarah Collins Rudolph, was injured.
The Rev. Arthur Price Jr., the current pastor of the church, said its particularly meaningful to have the nation’s first Black woman on the Supreme Court speak on the anniversary of the bombing that snatched the lives of four girls “who had promise, potential and possibility.”
“We see that promise, potential and possibility fulfilled in a Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, and this is what the girls may have been if their lives were not cut short. I think it’s a testament of how far we’ve come as a nation .. It also serves as a reminder of what we lost when these girls died in the bomb in 1963,” Price said.
There are multiple events in the city to mark the bombing anniversary.
“In the aftermath of that fateful day on September 15, 1963, our city and our nation had to take a hard look at itself and reckon with the devastating effects of hate and racism,” Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said in a statement about the upcoming anniversary. “Today, in the spirit of the four little girls, we work to be better and honor them by preserving our history and building a future worthy of their sacrifice.”