Stage production honors 16th Street bombing victims

Published 7:24 pm Friday, September 13, 2013

On Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, four girls were killed in and explosion at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. It was an act of racially motivated terrorism that marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.

This Sunday, Sept. 15, the community will be able to learn about the lives of those four little girls when their dreams and wishes are brought to the stage through theater.

“It’s easy for us, especially if this happened before we were born, to think of this event as long ago, irrelevant history,” said Quinton Cockrell, assistant professor of acting at Troy University. “We don’t usually think of these girls as being human beings, flesh and blood or what they were interested in and what they wanted to be. They didn’t get a chance to grow up.”

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Troy University is participating in an initiative by to educate and inspire the community on the 50th anniversary of the bombing. Actors will perform a staged reading of “Four Little Girls” by Christina Ham.

Cockrell said the performance will be less than an hour long and is free to the public.

On the same day other theaters across the nation will be taking part in the stage reading – including Broadway performers and actors at the Kennedy Center directed by Phylicia Rashad.

The local performance will begin at 5 p.m. in the Trojan Center Theater with doors opening at 4:15.

“Four Little Girls” is less of a political piece and more about love, Cockrell said, adding he believes the performance will be a way to further ideas about peace, compassion and understanding.

“I think it is very important that we don’t think of bigotry and racism and prejudice as something that is outside of ourselves.

“It is in each of us to some degree and some people allow themselves to act on it,” Cockrell said. “Some of us have worked hard to rise above those visceral feelings.

“Through examination of our behavior, we have decided intellectually and spiritually that bigotry doesn’t belong in this world. Hopefully, this will help people look inward and think about when they have been unfair and make a change.”