Monday, January 21, 2008

Birmingham Church Bombing: a key event in the civil rights era

(Tim Scroggins was an eighth grader at South Middle School during the 2006-2007 school year.)

One of the key events in the Civil Rights Movement was the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing in Birmingham Alabama. The reason the church was a key target to the KKK was because it was a key meeting place for the Civil Rights Movers.(Title-About the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing Website-english.uiuciedy/maps/poets/m_r/randall/Birmingham Author-N/A).
The Bombing
It was an early Sunday morning in the town of Birmingham, Alabama at around 10:45. There were four little girls in the basement of the small church who were getting ready for the 11:00 service. They were brushing there hair and discussing there first days back to school. at around 10:25 a dynamite bomb with 19 sticks of dynamite exploded injuring 22 and killing 3 fourteen year olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, the blast also killed 11 year old Denise Mcnair. The bomb also damaged 5 cars in the back, completely annihilated the back wall, and destroyed every stain glass window pains except for one, this one consisted of Christ holding hands with children leading them to the promised land, although the face of Christ was destroyed the rest of it was intact. After tragedy the remains of the church pulled many whites into the civil rights movements. (Title- In the Memory of four little girls Website-useekufindcom/peace/summary.htm Author-N/A)
The Victims
# Born November 17, 1951, Carole Denise McNair was the first child of photo shop owner Chris and schoolteacher Maxine McNair. Her playmates called her Niecie. A pupil at Center Street Elementary School, she had many friends. She held tea parties, was a member of the Brownies, and played baseball. She helped raise money to support muscular dystrophy by creating plays, dance routines, and poetry readings. These events became an annual event. People gathered in the yard to watch the show in Denise’s carport, the main stage. Children donated their pennies, dimes, and nickels. Denise was a schoolmate and friend of Secretary of state Condoeleeza Rice.
# Born April 30, 1949, Cynthia Wesley was the first adopted daughter of Claude and Gertrude Wesley, who were both teachers. Her mother made her clothes because of her petite size. Cynthia went to school at Ullman High School, which no longer exists. She excelled in math, reading, and band. Cynthia held parties in her backyard for all her friends. Upon Cynthia’s death she was so mutilated the only way to identify her was by the ring she wore, which was recognized by her father.
# Carole Robertson was born April 24th, 1949. She was the third child of Alpha and Alvin Robertson. Her sister was Dianne and her brother was Alvin. Her father was a band master at the local elementary school. Her mother was a librarian, avid reader, dancer, and clarinet player. Carole, like her mother, enjoyed reading. She excelled at school and was a straight-A student, a member of Parker High School marching band and science club. She was also a Girl Scout and belonged to Jack and Jill of America. When she was at Wilkerson Elementary School she sang in the choir. Her legacy helped create the Carole Robertson Center for Learning in Chicago, a social service agency that serves children and their families.
# Addie Mae Collins was born April 18th, 1948, the daughter of Oscar and Alice. Her father was a janitor and her mother a homemaker. She was one of seven children. Addie was the peacemaker between the bunch. She was also an avid softball player. A youth center dedicated to Addie and her ideals was created in Alabama.(Title-victims of the 1963 Chuch Bombing
Although the actual attack was only to instill fear into the African Americans, it only brought rage. By the end of the day fires had broken out and two more African Americans were left dead one by to whites riding a moped and one killed by police for throwing rocks at cars as they passed. To add wood to the flames Birmingham Police Commissioner tried to say that it was the U.S Supreme Courts fault saying "If there's to be bloodshed its on them not us" further enraging the crowd by also saying that the african americans maybe planted the bombs themselves trying to provoke an emotional response adding in "I wouldn't say its over Martin Luther King Jr's crowd." At the end of the day all of the crowds had been subdued and they had no suspects in the bombing.(Title-The bombing Author-16th street Baptist church Bombing)
The Investigation and Convictions .

As the investigation continued many suspects came up and many were not convicted.Robert Chambliss was initially charged with the crime he was never convicted. Years later it was confirmed that the FBI hadnt released evidence that could have been used to convict him, and in 1977 by the order of J. Edgar Hoover Chambliss was prosecuted by Alabama General Attorney and was convicted for the murder of four girls and was sentenced to several terms of life imprisonments, he died in prison in 1985. After the case was reopened several times, the FBI insisted that Bobby Cherry and Thomas Blanton be convicted of the crimes and on May 17, 2000, after 3 hours of deliberations between the jury both of them were convicted of the four murders and were sentenced to life imprisonment. (Title-4 little girls Website- Author-N/A)


Anonymous said...

Very good job young man. I was just reviewing some articles about my family on line when I saw your post. You see Randy, Carole Robertson is my aunt, the aunt I never got to meet because of her tragic death more than ten years before my birth. Feel blessed that we live in better times. Again good job.

Randy said...

My students would love to talk with you or e-mail you if you have any time. We are doing this project through March 2. Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated.

Randy Turner