View Full Version : 49 years ago today, 16th Street Baptist Church bombed in Birmingham

Darrell KSR
09-15-2012, 10:24 AM
Business took me by there yesterday, and I just stopped my car and parked for awhile and stared at it, thinking of what a terrible thing occurred years ago (I did not recall the date, and somehow felt like it was important. I guess subconsciously I may have known it was today.)

We recently observed the 11th anniversary of 9/11, which was the nation's most horrific tragedy, the cowardly terrorist attack on our nation, of course. But this is a week full of observations of tragedies.

On September 15, 1963, at 10:22 a.m. CT, another terroristic attack occurred, racially motivated, at an African-American church. At about 10:22 a.m., twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room to prepare for the sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” when the bomb exploded. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the attack.

The explosion blew a hole in the church's rear wall, destroyed the back steps and all but one stained-glass window, which showed Christ leading a group of little children.

(wiki link) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing

It won't command the attention of the 9/11 anniversary, but it marked an important low point in our efforts for Civil Rights, and an important turning point as well in our nation's history. I know we all lamented the poor performance and the very low ranking of the BBVA Compass Bowl football game when UK played Pittsburgh, but I was moved by how many players talked about the Civil Rights museum here and how compelling it was to them.

Rest in peace, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. The nation mourns your losses today, which may have helped move the Civil Rights movement forward at the same time. We are not where we need to be, but we are a long way from Birmingham, Alabama, 1963.


09-15-2012, 12:03 PM
Nice post Darrell. That event along with many others should not be forgotten by those of us living today. IRRC it was 1962 when our grade school admitted the first black students. I do not remember it being a big deal, but I am sure it was to many that were much older than me. I do know the process was completely peaceful and without incident.

09-17-2012, 06:07 PM
I worked with a woman for 15 years who was in the church that eventful day. She was 16 at the time. Knew the girls who were killed and knew Condi Rice. What a terrible terrible tragedy. Carol never talked about that day unless pressed by others to do so. You could tell even 25 to 30 years later it was too painful of a memory. Two things she said I vividly remember. First, she thought the way the church shook that the whole building would come down. And, they were too afraid to leave the church, as what was waiting for them outside might be worse than what happened inside. The other comment was that children back then were taught that they could seek refuge in the church. The blast changed all of that. Back then, no one believed anyone would harm the church or anyone inside. That one event changed a lot of the dynamics of the civil rights movement.