Leaders and residents reflect on the impact of Empowerment Week

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Even before the City of Birmingham’s Empowerment Week came to an end, many in attendance at various events were already sharing their hopes for the future of Birmingham, the impact it will have.

Sarah Collins lost her sister and her eye sight in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, but says the city needed peace.

“This city has come a long way. We needed to have peace in this city, but I just hate to see that these girls had to die just to get peace,” said Collins.

Gaile Gratton, a close cousin for Carole Robertson, one of four young girls who died in the bombing, hopes the world continues to realize that we are more a like than we are different.

“I hope that people will always remember the evil that can result from racism or hatred of others based upon immutable characteristics or hate in general. So that we will not be subject to the same atrocity in the future.”

“50 years later we are free but not equal. About 40% of black males have been disenfranchised , they’ve lost the right to vote because of the prison felony laws. I expect in five years more black males will be disenfranchised,” says the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

While some hope the next 50 years will bring continued progress for race relations, other hope the look back at the past will spur change among other issues within the African American community.

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