Governor Dean's Statement on the 40th Anniversary of the Birmingham Church Bombing

September 15, 2003


In September 1963, I was 14 years old and just beginning the 10th grade. I remember very well the tragic bombing in Birmingham and the senseless deaths of those four girls: Denise McNair (11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14).

These girls were my age. I knew then that America needed to change. America still needs to change. Although racist bombings are for the most part a relic of the past and voting rights have been extended to everybody, we must never forget the things that these young girls died for—equality for all Americans, programs for affirmative action that ensure access for all Americans when it comes time to apply for a job or for a place in college, and the freedom for everyone to live ordinary lives free of hate and discrimination. Forty years after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, we still have much work to do, but I have confidence that working together as a community there's nothing that we can't accomplish.

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