Photo credits: The Associated Press | The Birmingham News
Today marks the 57th anniversary of a gruesome day for the 19th-century Civil Rights Movement. This day also left an indelible stain on the already deeply-soiled racial history of America.
The year 1963 in the U.S. was full of historical highs that occurred per annum alongside some historically treacherous lows. There was the epic March on Washington to the national monument, which was the setting for Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He delivered this powerful sermon on August 28, 1963.
This great oratory event served as the historic memento that propelled Dr. King into permanent immortalization.
However, a national tragedy of epic proportions would follow Dr. King’s timeless proclamation in the U.S. capitol. On November 22, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas as his motorcade was traveling through the streets before a sea of cameras for the world to see.
There are many theories that have been passed around about the reasons why President Kennedy was taken out in what was such a high-profile murder. Many believe that the former U.S. statesman became a target of Southern-born rage when he made himself, in many ways, to be an ally of known black figureheads of the Civil Rights Movement (such as Dr. King himself).
But it was that same Southern-born rage against blacks that reared its ugly head in Birmingham, Alabama; taking the lives of four innocent black church girls.
On September 15, 1963, Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was flattened by a bomb blast. The deadly explosion was attributed to members of the Ku Klux Klan, killing four and injuring 14. Addie Mae Collins, 14, Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, were the four innocent, young black female souls who lost their lives on that tragic day.
Though justice in the courts never came soon enough in its entirety pertaining to this case, the absolutely evil nature of this crime, which took those four precious lives will never be forgotten. It is impossible for closure to be granted in a case where racial hatred permanently steals away the ability of innocent black girls to grow up to be virtuous black women one day.
Finally, today’s white American denials that systemic racism has ever existed to a heinous extent are a slap in the face to the spirits of these four young girls. Blacks in America (especially those living in Birmingham) will never forget the torment they felt when they either lived through or heard about the tragedy that happened at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
In time, America-at-large may pretend to but will not forget what happened either.