Birmingham Sunday: By Langston Hughes

0 Posted by - March 7, 2018 - LATEST POSTS


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

Magnolia trees.


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.


  • Brenda Turner August 12, 2017 - 7:05 am Reply

    We must never, ever forget this violence against blk people.

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