The bomb was so powerful it left a 2ft crater in the floor of the basement of the church. It blew out windows in the row of buildings opposite, twisted iron railings and flattened brick walls. Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, all 14, and Denise McNair, 11, were in the basement of the 16th Street Baptist Church that day, 15 September 1963, and they all died in the blast. Five days before, Birmingham’s schools had been desegregated, allowing black and white children to be taught together. The bomb was the response from the Ku Klux Klan. These days it would be called an act of terrorism, but back then, before such words were used and in the context of what was in effect a guerrilla war in the Deep South, it was just another outrage in a long line of offensives by whites opposed to the Civil Rights movement. In April that year, Martin Luther King had visited the city and remarked: ‘In Birmingham we have reached the point of no return.’ The church had become a focal point for clashes between Civil Rights activists and police. Those images of the Civil Rights era – fire hoses… Read full this story
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