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Hundreds Pay Tribute to Bomb Victims in Birmingham

Sept. 17, 1963 - Hundreds of persons paid silent tribute today to the memory of a 14-year-old Negro girl who died during Sunday school with 3 others when a bomb blasted their church in Birmingham, Ala. Hushed mourners — mostly Negro, some white persons — crowded into Birmingham’s St. John AME Church for the funeral services of Carol Robertson. (Pictured below, Alpha Robertson, Carol’s mother, arrives for the service.) An estimated 1,000 persons stood in the streets for a block around. The theme of the service was mourning, non-violence, and perseverance. “The greatest tribute you can pay to Carol is to be calm, be lovely, be kind, be innocent,” said the Rev. Hobart Oden Jr., assistant pastor of the 16th Street Baptist Church where the four children were killed Sunday. The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, an integration leader, told Mr. and Mrs. Robertson and their two surviving children: “You by your loss have paid another precious installment on that great thing called freedom.” He spoke for Dr. Martin Luther King, who he said had a conflict in schedules and could not attend. A funeral service for the other three victims will be held tomorrow. They were Denise McNair, 11; Addie Mae Collins, and Cynthia Wesley, both 14. Mayor Albert Boutwell and the city council sent telegrams to the parents of the children expressing “profound sorrow.” After the audience filed quietly out of the church, a 100-car procession followed the hearse to a cemetery. There the girl’s body was buried on a hillside among a few cedar trees.

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