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Will H

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 4 months ago

Monday, September 16, 1963

__The New York Times__


Birmingham Church Bombed!



By Will Herbert

Associated Press


Yesterday, at approximately 10:20 A.M., a huge bomb went off at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The blast was so strong that it killed four young African American girls and injured 20 more people just as a special "Youth Sunday"service was to begin. The dead children were all found in the basement of the building.The blast occurred as the girls were waiting to come up to the alter to sing and usher.


Intelligence indicates that the Ku Klux Klan is behind the bombings. A possible eyewitness to the crime said that he saw four white men running from the building eight hours earlier under the cover of darkness. Evidence including sticks of dynamite have been found under the stairs of the church. The blast is believed to have been set under the stone staircase along an outside wall. The blast ripped out the entire back wall causing concern of a collapse. The medical team responded within 10 minutes. The injured have been taken to local hospitals.

The dead have been identified as Carol Mcnair, age 11, Cynthia Wesley, age 14, Addie Mae Collins, age 14 and Carole Robertson, age 14.The Black Community is shattered. The church's Pastor, Reverend John Cross, said to the congregation, "Go home and pray for the people that did this to us because it is obvious that they don't love us." Ironically, the pastor's sermon was going to be about love. Reverend Cross also said that after the bomb went off, he heard people say, "We give love and we get this!" and "Love'em? Love'em? We hate them!" The "people" the congregants were referring to is the white race. Now that this tragedy has occured, condolences have been pouring into this southern steel town. Even some of the white community is hurt, shocked, and mourning the loss of these innocent children. It is said that Martin Luther King Jr. will speak at the girls' funerals.


In unrelated incidents, two African American boys were killed yesterday in Birmingham. Virgil Ware, age 13, was shot while riding his bike. It is believed that whites were involved in the killing. Johnny Robinson, age 16, was also shot and killed as he ran from police that were trying to control the crowds after the bombing.


The most recent bombings in Birmingham are shocking because they are the first to involve children but there have been over 60 other bombings to date. Birmingham is notorious in the African American community's struggle for racial equality. Alabama's governor, George Wallace, has done nothing to stop the violence. He has been labeled a segregationist and his lack of concern is alarming. The current violence is likely a response to an anti-segregation march held in the spring and to the desegregation of some of the schools in the city. Martin Luther King Jr's reaction to the tragedy is that it is his hope that it may "cause the white south to come to terms with its conscience." Even the father of Carol Mcnair is saying, "We must not let this change us into something different than who we are. We must be human." Black and white leaders alike are pleading for an end to the violence.

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