50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing

Condoleezza Rice grew up in black and white Birmingham. Her city was the capital of an old, segregated South fighting to stay alive.

In an interview with the Reverend Al Sharpton for Politics Nation, the former Secretary of State recalled the Birmingham of her childhood.

Between the late 1940s and mid ’60s, there were 50 unsolved bombings throughout Birmingham. There were so many the city earned a nickname — folks started calling it “Bombingham.” But it was the one that went off at the 16th Street Baptist Church, September 15, 1963 that jolted a nation.

50 years later, the sacrifice of four little girls was remembered in Washington with a congressional gold medal.

Their friend, Condoleezza, grew up to become one of the most accomplished black women in the world. Another friend, William Bell, is now mayor of the city that was once so divided.

We’ll never know what they could have become. But their legacy is evident all around Birmingham where there’s a thriving downtown, world-class hospital, and talk of landing an NBA team.

All of that will be the backdrop this weekend as a new city remembers its dark past, but also celebrates what it’s become.