Funeral held for father of Birmingham civil rights victim

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The father of a martyr of the civil rights era was himself laid to rest Wednesday.

The funeral for James Ware Senior was held in Pratt City this morning.

He’s the father of Virgil Ware, a 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed while riding on the handlebars of a bicycle 50 years ago.

Ware senior’s fellow church members at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church honored his life Wednesday.

Rev. Guyrinthian L. Harris says James Ware Sr. was not bitter and brought joy to others throughout his life despite what happened to his son. He will be sorely missed by members of his Pratt City church.

The pastor says Ware was the father of the church. Ware lost his son Virgil in a senseless act of violence in the unrest that followed on the day of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. He lived to see his son inducted into the city of Birmingham’s Gallery of Distinguished Citizens last month.

“And I watched the joy on his face as his son’s name was called and a statue had been unveiled of his son,” said Rev Harris. “One of the things that Daddy Ware always emphasized to me was he said. Pastor- he said the city lost 4 little girls, but he said I also lost a son that day. And I told him- I said dad we know and we shall forever remember Virgil, we shall forever remember Daddy Ware. And this church has suffered a great loss today, a great loss.”

James Ware Sr.’s gravesite is at George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens where his son Virgil is buried.

He was 90 years old and his family says he was still working until he fell ill last week. He passed away Sept. 5th, 2013.

In all, six African American youth were killed in Birmingham the day of 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing on Sept. 15th, 1963.

Johnnie Robinson was sixteen years old when he was shot and killed by a white police officer during the unrest that broke out in Birmingham after the bombing. No charges were brought against the officer. We sat down with Robinson’s family members in 2011. Here is some of what they had to say.

“When I got to the hospital I noticed she was beating police. And she said, your brother’s gone, your brother’s gone…and she went out and laid in the streets. I’m still dealing with it. I’ve been dealing with it for a long time,” said Diane Robinson.

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