Thousands gather for Empowerment Week Gospel concert

Today marks the start of empowerment week, remembering 50 years of the Civil Rights Movement. Earlier today, about 2500 volunteers participated in service projects across the city, doing things like planting and repairing city parks and working at schools. {}The day ends with a Gospel concert hosted by the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Around 2,000 people came for the concert tonight featuring Ce-Ce Winans and Donnie McClurkin. {}While this is certainly a time to celebrate, many of the people here are taking time to remember what Birmingham was like 50 years ago.

"The hoses, the dogs, the police. It makes my heart pound and it makes me sad," Jacqueline Ross, a Foot Soldier said. "But we also understand that's something we had to go through to get to where we are now."

For Foot Soldier, Jacqueline Ross, the journey from 1963 to 2013 has been a painful one. She marched this path 50 years ago.

"I'm grateful for what the four little girls and the young men sacrificed for us and the many others who were freedom riders," Ross said. "The Lord has elevated them in a special way. A very special way."

Mayor William Bell says churches from across Birmingham moved their services to Kelly Ingram Park for this service - remembering the impact local congregations made on the Movement.

"Most of the leadership within the Civil Rights Movement came from the Christian church," Mayor William Bell said. "They put their faith in God - that He would see them through any difficulties they encountered."

"I'm glad they're holding this out here - the 50th anniversary of the four girls and I hope this sends a message to somebody, I hope it reaches somebody," Sandra Neighbors, who attended the concert said.

"I have a lot of thanks for these people who gave their life that I might have a better life," Patricia A. Jackson, a Foot Soldier who attended the concert said.

"We can combine the voices and praise together to send a message that we've come this far by faith and we can go even further by faith," Bell said.