Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembering the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing and Virgil Ware

This year, 38 years ago, two events shaped history in the goal of equal rights and liberty for all in America. They were events that showed the ugly that festered inside of America, an ugliness based on a terroristic hate and race supremacy. These events were the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and the murder and lynching of Virgil Lamar Ware. The common element was that the both occurred on killed Sept. 15, 1963 and both involved children.

On that Sunday, a white man was seen placing a box under the stairs outside of the church, which had become a meeting-place for civil efforts to register African Americans to vote in Birmingham.

A few minutes before 10:30 am., the bomb exploded killing four girls who were in the church attending Sunday School: Denise McNair (11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14). In addition, twenty-three other people were also hurt by the blast.

A witness identified a known member of the Ku Klux Klan, Robert Chambliss, as the man who placed the bomb at the but found not guilty of murder and received a hundred-dollar fine and a six-month jail sentence for having the dynamite.

On the same day the 13 year-old Ware was found lynched and mutilated in Birmingham. Virgil Ware had just entered the eighth grade at the all-black Sandusky Elementary School near his home in suburban Pratt City. While working on a paper route with his two brothers. Larry Joe Sims and Michael Lee Farley, both 16, had attended a segregationist rally that day drove by the brother firing two bullets hit Virgil in the chest and cheek, making Virgil Ware the sixth and final black person to be killed in Birmingham that Sunday.

Although African Americans can applauded some overt change with the election of Barack Obama and the erection of a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C., we must recognize the disservice we actually do ourselves by forgetting about those who gave blood for what we supposedly have currently. To forget in memory yet celebrate in symbols is a defeatist mantra that serves no proactive or productive utility. For it will always be as Dwight David Eisenhower stated, “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

Our privileges have us more knowledgeable of celebrity and avarice than education and self-determination. Thus if such is the case, the principals symbolized in the actions of those before us and the words of Dr. King are long gone and may be never to return.


msladydeborah said...

I can still remember the events of that Sunday morning when the church was bombed like it just happened yesterday...

This was my aha! moment as a child. It is when I realized that there was a manner of man who was totally evil and filled with a level of hate that I never imagined exsisted.

I was almost 10 years old when this happened. Our home phone rang and the next thing I knew the televiion set was turned on. This was so unuual for my family. When I walked into our living room and saw the televised footage, it blew me away. I couldn't comprehend anyone bombing a church period. I remember being so uncomfortable during our church service because for the first time ever in my life, I questioned if we were actually safe. It seemed to me that our service was longer than usual on that day. The weight of the sorrow was so heavy...

When I allow myself to think about this time in my life, I find myself wondering how those low life sons of bitches could lay down and sleep at night without having nightmare. I hope that a special place in the far corner of west hell was reserved for them.

Antonia Z said...

Like MsLadyDeborah, I am old enough to remember that too. (Actually a little older.) It was one of the events that politicized me.

Great post, and I still think Spike lee's Four Little Girls should have won the Oscar that year.

But your math is off.

It was 48 years ago.


east midlands airport parking voucher codes said...

I'm not old enough to remember, but sounds like quite an event