Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (search) are visiting her native Alabama this weekend to highlight their shared effort to promote democracy worldwide.

Rice was raised in Birmingham, which was a focal point of the civil rights struggle four decades ago and which she said has been referred to as "Bombingham."

Rice said the city's history "is evocative of terrorism." The 1963 killing of four black girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church (search) was the deadliest attack of the civil rights era. Rice will attend a ceremony on Saturday marking the murders.

As a youth growing up in England, Straw said he "remembered with horror" watching televised accounts of the brutality experienced by American blacks during the civil rights conflict.

Straw and Rice passed crowds of supporters as their motorcade made its way to the Blackburn Institute (search) at the University of Alabama.

In a speech to hundreds of students and faculty, Rice drew the loudest applause when she shouted, "The tide is going to roll." The Alabama Crimson Tide is the university's football team, and Rice and Straw will attend a game on Saturday.

During the flight here, Straw noted that rugby is the closest British equivalent to American football. He said the U.S. version was "rugby with commercials."