In the same venue where a racially fueled bombing killed four young girls 50 years ago, the NAACP's Metro Birmingham Branch tonight recognized 20 churches out of ultimately 60 total that were instrumental in the civil rights movement.
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"This is round one of churches," Metro Birmingham president Hezekiah Jackson IV said about the ceremony's recognition of the civil rights mass movement churches. "Tonight we are starting with 20. So those of you who may be members of other churches not included in the roster tonight, stay tuned."
The event at the 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham came as the city's NAACP branch recognizes the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement this year. Birmingham News reporter Barnett Wright before the ceremony signed copies of his book, "1963: How the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement Changed America and the World."
In between rousing performances from the New Hope Baptist Church Mass Choir and Professor Carlton Reese Memorial Choir, attendees praised the recognized churches and their leaders, as well as God's work.
"All 60 of those churches and their leadership have certainly to be called by God to put themselves on the line as they did, and aren't we all grateful they did 50 years later?" said Sephira Bailey Shuttlesworth, the event's mistress of ceremony and wife of the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.
Before Kenneth Prevo of the Metro Birmingham NAACP's executive committee introduced awards for the first set of churches honored in the night, he talked about the interaction between Moses and God in the Bible.
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Martin J. Reed