FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A survivor of the September 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama spoke in Fort Worth on Thursday, Jan. 13 about his experience and relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Dale Long, a retired City of Dallas employee, was 11 years old when this horrid attack happened, but he said he nevertheless remembers everything like it was yesterday.
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“There had been bombs all over Birmingham during that time, in the 50s and 60s,” Long said. “So we young people, we learned to live with the threat of those kind of things. Was it frightening? Absolutely.”
During a special series of events at the Fort Worth Public Library, Dr. Long detailed what happened while he was inside 16th Street Baptist Church.
Long said bombings happened quite often in Birmingham, already at church’s but they were never occupied.
“We were just again just chatting, laughing about football and all of that stuff. Then all of a sudden the building started to shake,” Long said. “The light went out, dust, people were yelling, we had no idea what was going on.”
On September 15, 1963, he and his younger brother survived a bomb attack on the church by the Ku Klux Klan.
“I said ‘I can’t believe they’d bomb the church with people in it,’ Long said. “So pretty soon people were walking around looking for their loved ones.”
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He was a member of the church and was there at the time attending Sunday school. Four of his friends were killed, and 27 others were injured.
“Addie, Denise Cynthia and Carole, we had been in bible school together,” Long said.
The blast killed four young girls: 11-year-old Denise McNair, 14 -year-old Addie Mae Collins, 14-year-old Carole Robertson, and 14-year-old Cynthia Wesley.
Long said he hadn’t experienced death that much, and was already saying final goodbyes to his friends.
During his conversation, he also highlighted his first time meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He did the eulogies for Long’s three friends.
“We were looking at each other, a few feet away like we are right now. Most powerful moment of my life, I’m almost 70 now, but the most powerful moment in my life,” Long said.
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Dr. Long is scheduled to do more speaking engagements including a panel discussion on Monday, which would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 93rd birthday.
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