Friday, January 18, 2008
The death of four little girls
By ALICIA SHOFNER
(Alicia Shofner was an eighth grader at South Middle School during the 2006-2007 school year.)
The Birmingham Church Bombing was an event that no one will ever forget. Lives were taken from four innocent girls when some members of the KKK put a box of dynamite under the stairs of The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday September 15th, 1963, the man had been seen getting out of a white and turquoise Chevrolet car that morning. Around 10:22 am the bomb went off. The four girls that had got killed had been attending Sunday school that morning when the bomb had gone off.
The four African American girls that were killed in the bombing were Addie Mae Collins age 14, Carole Robertson age 14, Cynthia Wesley age 14 and Denise McNair age 11. Along with the four girls that died there were 23 other people that were also hurt when the dynamite when off.
After the bomb had went off there were out breaks of shooting that left at least two people dead in the streets. People would smash in the windows of people who had white skin that were driving by, there was also fires started but they were put out before anyone got hurt. City police shot a 16-year-old Negro to death when he refused to heed their commands to halt after they caught him stoning cars. A 13-year-old Negro boy was shot and killed as he rode his bicycle in a suburban area north of the city. The police didn’t want anyone out on the streets after dark so everyone was instructed to keep there children in the house. When the crowd broke up, scattered shootings and stoning erupted through the city during the afternoon and tonight. It was a mad house after the bombing had happened. It was the fourth bombing in four weeks in Birmingham, and the third since the current school desegregation crisis came to a boil Sept. 4. The fact that this happened in Birmingham was not as surprising as you would have thought because Birmingham was a stronghold of the KKK. Segregation was the norm in the city. A lot of people we separated because of there color or the heritage. (Birmingham, Alabama, and the Civil Rights Movement in 1963, About the 1963 Birmingham Bombing, http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/m_r/randall/birmingham.htm)
When the bomb exploded the image of Jesus was knocked cleanly out of the only window that was not totally distorted and the church clock stopped at exactly 10:22am. How weird is that? That the clock would stop as soon as the bomb went off and that the only window that wasn’t shattered had the face of Jesus. It was a miracle. (Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, We shall over come, http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/al11.htm)
At three of the girl’s funerals (the other girl’s family wanted to have a separate funeral.) Martin Luther King Jr. spoke. He talked about how life being "as hard as crucible steel." For black and African American kids it was really hard to live there lives because of all the racial things that were going on in the world. More thank 8,000 people showed up at the service, City officials didn’t go to the funeral because the crowds were so big and there were so many people already going. Some white people that the families didn’t know showed up to show there sorrow for the family that had lost the girls. (Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, We shall over come, http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/al11.htm)
The blame for the death of the four girls was put on George Wallace, the Governor of because early that week he had told the New York Times that to stop the integration Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.” (Birmingham, Alabama, and the Civil Rights Movement in 1963)
It wasn’t until witness identified Robert Chambliss as the man who had placed the bomb under the steps he was charged with murder and possessing a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without having the permit to have the dynamite. On October 8th, 1963, he was found not guilty and just received a $100 fine and had to serve six months in jail for not having a permit for the dynamite. But in November 1977 the case was tried once again, he was found guilty and had to serve life imprison. Robert dies in Alabama prison on October 29th, 1985. He never admitted that he had anything to do with the bombing even before he died. On May 17th, 2000 the FBI had found out that the Bombing at Sixteen Street Baptist Church, had been carried out by the Ku Klux Klan splinter group, the called themselves the Cahaba Boys. Four men from the group Robert Chambliss, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton, and Bobby Cherry had been responsible for the bombing. Herman Cash had already died so he was never given a punishment for what he did. During Cherry’s trail some of him family had came forward and testify against him and said Cherry “has worn this crime like a badge of honor.” Cherry had said
"This whole bunch lied all the way through this thing," he said when Circuit Judge James Garrett asked him whether he had anything to say. "Now, I don't know why I'm going to jail for nothing. I didn't do anything." He was convinced of four counts of murder and was serving life imprison. When Thomas Blanton had his trail he was also found guilty When they found so called Kitchen tapes of him telling his wife about the plan to make the bomb and use it, and has to serve life imprison too. They both died when they were in prison. Cherry died November 2004 of cancer when he was in jail. Thomas also died in prison. "I'll sleep well tonight, better than I've slept in many years," said the Rev. Abraham Lincoln Woods, a leader of Birmingham's black community who pushed authorities to reopen the case. (Birmingham, Alabama, and the Civil Rights Movement in 1963) and (Birmingham Church Bombing, Black History Month, http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bhmjustice3.html)