It was 10:22 a.m. on a Sunday September morning in 1963. Sunday schools classes were being held and 200 church-goers were in the building. A bomb detonated inside the church, demolishing the church’s east side and caving in he walls. There were four casualities that have never been forgotten even half a century later. Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair were all found dead in the basement restroom. All of the other attendees were able to evacuate the church, those over 20 people were injured in the blast.
In his poem, Birmingham Sunday, Langston Hughes remembers these four little girls, casualties in a war of hatred and racism against African Americans during the Civil Rights movement.
(September 15, 1963)
Four little girls
Who went to Sunday School that day
And never came back home at all–
But left instead
Their blood upon the wall
With spattered flesh
And bloodied Sunday dresses
Scorched by dynamite that
China made aeons ago
Did not know what China made
Before China was ever Red at all
Would ever redden with their blood
This Birmingham-on-Sunday wall.
Four tiny little girls
Who left their blood upon that wall,
In little graves today await:
The dynamite that might ignite
The ancient fuse of Dragon Kings
Whose tomorrow sings a hymn
The missionaries never taught
In Christian Sunday School
To implement the Golden Rule.
Four little girls
Might be awakened someday soon
By songs upon the breeze
As yet unfelt among
Context on Birmingham:
Birmingham, Alabama was known for its intense racism and resistance to the civil rights movement, and was consequently a major focus of desegregation forces. The state’s governor, George Wallace, was notoriously against desegregation. Eugene “Bull” Connor, was the well-known brutal police commissioner, who did not hold back extreme violence against protesters or any blacks. With one of the most active Ku Klux Klan chapters in the country, Birmingham Alabama was a place of great danger for black citizens, especially civil rights leaders attempting to change the racist status quo.
We must never, ever forget this violence against blk people.
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That same day, 2 boys were killed there. There is a small monument for them in Ala.