Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Violence in Birmingham: Church bombing kills four

(Sarah Phillips is an eighth grader in Mr. Randy Turner's eighth grade communication arts class at South Middle School during the 2007-2008 school year.)

September 15, 1963 10:25 AM.: A dynamite bomb exploded in the basement of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama. This happened because Martin Luther King Jr. was to speak at the church that night. Many times before antiracial protests had been held at this very church.

Four girls were killed in the explosion, Denise McNair, age 12, Cynthia Wesley, age 14, Carol Robertson, age 13, and Addie Mae Collins, age 11. Addie Mae’s sister, Sarah Collins, was age 15. She survived the explosion but was left blind by this event. When the Pastor went back in to “survey” the damage, he didn’t notice the girls because where they were in the most severally damaged part of the church. They were not discovered until the construction crew started to clear away the ruble. (The Birmingham Church Bombing By Stephen Currie the Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing)

This event lead to more violence in Birmingham. “Outrage at the bombing and the grief that followed resulted in violence across Birmingham. By the end of the day, two more African-American youths had been killed. Sixteen-year-old Johnnie Robinson was shot and killed by police after throwing stones at cars with white people inside. Two white teenage boys riding on a motor scooter shot 13-year-old Virgil Ware, who was on a bike with his brother.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing)
This event marked a turning point of the civil-rights movement. It helped gain supporters for the passing of laws that protects civil rights of Americans. “The attack was intended to instill fear among African Americans who had been demonstrating for an end to segregation and to disrupt court-ordered integration of public schools. Instead, the bombing caused public outrage and helped build support for civil rights legislation by the Kennedy Administration.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church bombing)

When the bomb exploded, it was like the shot heard round the world. It was a slap in the face for many people, especially for the black citizens of Birmingham. The citizens were alarmed that an assault of such degree would happen to their church down the street. A racial insult of this magnitude changed the lives of many people and the world. (The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr.)

It is as if Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton Jr., and Robert Edward Chambliss, members of the Ku Klux Klan, did not care that they took the lives of four girls, but let’s hope they probably think about what they did every day. There are some sick people in this world and each one keeps getting sicker by the day.
When I think about the Birmingham church bombing, the first thing that comes to mind is fire and the looks on the mothers’ faces when they learned about their daughters deaths. The second thing that comes to mind is injustice, it took them thirty years to prosecute these men, and Bobby Frank Cherry was the only one to go to jail. The little girls died and they do not even get the men that killed them to pay for what they did. If that is not injustice then I do not know what is. And their mothers knowing their daughters killers are still out there, not knowing if they will devastate another town, and more mothers, but not just mothers next time, maybe whole cities or more than one city dozens of other cities just waiting for their death in the little church down the street. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing)

”I am serving four life sentences for a crime I did not commit.” Bobby Frank Cherry. The Irony of this situation is injustice. Booby Frank Cherry claimes he is unjustly prosecuted He claimes to be a prisoner of war in the state of Alabama when in all actuality he started a war himself. Was He unjustly accused or is he lying through his teeth? When you do something wrong you need to own up to it, if I ever saw that Bobby Frank Cherry I would have one thing to say what if it was you or your daughter? IF something this devastating happened to you would want the person brought to justice. You would not want the criminal to walk free on the streets but behind bars paying for what he did, not just to your daughter but you and your city. (http://www.geocities.com/bobbyfcherry/)

Can you even imagine it? Your whole world would come crashing down in front of you. Is it fair, of course it is never fair, nobody disserves that, it does not matter how much you hate them. “These children unoffending, innocent, and beautiful-were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.” By Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the funeral service of three of the girls, Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley, that died in the bombing. (http://www.africanamericans.com/MLKjrSpeechMenu.htm)

If Joplin was bombed like the church or The Twin Towers, I am not sure what would happen, but what I know would happen is chaos, pure chaos. A healthy dose of chaos is probably good for you but not like Birmingham or The Twin Towers, too much of that kind of chaos will make you sick. But, it can also bring out hope, because of what we see happen to the world, during attacks on humanity. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve... you only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love." (http://www.africanamericans.com/MLKjrSpeechMenu.htm)

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