Sunday, September 8, 2013

Destination Freedom...Four Little Girls

Plaque commemorating the four girls killed in the 16th Street
Baptist Church Bombing
Our kickoff for the Destination Freedom series is scheduled for one week from today on Sunday, Sept. 15. The timing of the event is meant to be commemorative.

If you have been following this blog and the Civil Rights timeline, the reasons are insurmountable. On Sept. 15, 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed after the KKK planted dynamite in the church’s basement. The bombing killed four young girls: Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14.

News of the bombing shook the nation. Everyone, including Dr. King, heard what happened and then had to ponder: what kind of hate and racism would allow the killing of young girls at their church on a Sunday morning?
Yet despite the public outrage, it took years to convict the perpetrators of the crime. It has taken years more to answer other questions that the tragedy brings to the fore:
Have we as a nation made it possible for young people (of every color) to feel safer?

Are those who would use violence to further their ideology more likely to be brought to justice today?

Who else, or where else, might be a target for those looking to send a message of fear?

The aftermath of the dynamite explosion at 16th Street Baptist
Church in Birmingham, Alabama
The 16th Street Church bombing was a significant event in 1963, and it still has reverberations today. Coming after the successful Children’s March and Birmingham campaign (where the 16th Street Baptist Church played a critical role as a meeting place for activists) and the success of the iconic March on Washington, the bombing reminded many of how much work was left undone and how much harm activists were putting themselves in the way of. It also reminded many of what was truly at stake with civil rights: the ability not just to protect those 4 girls but all children so they can grow up in a world free from the dangers their skin color could cause.

In May 2013, President Barack Obama awarded the four girls The Congressional Gold Medal, one of the nation’s highest civilian honors. Read about this historic honor here

That is one of the many ways the girls’ legacy is being honored. Today from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Levine Museum will host a screening of the film 4 Little Girls. The documentary, directed by Spike Lee, looks at the lives, loss and continued impact of the bombing.
Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @LevineMuseum. Follow along using the hashtag #DestinationFreedom.
You can also find us at Museum to RSVP to the screening and learn more about the Destination Freedom series.
See you on the 15th for the kickoff!

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