Is the Nightmare Over? The 1960s was a severely changing time in the US. The 1960s has shaped the way the US is today. It was a very changing time period because of many reasons, such as the hippie movement, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the creation of children’s toys, but one main event that occurred in the 60s was racism. Racism in the 1960s was a huge problem between whites and colored people for years. Propaganda was the main reason; prejudice commercials, sperate water fountains, restrooms, and buildings. People such as Martin Luther King Jr. a Baptist minister who became a civil rights activist tried to bring black and whites together by broadcasting speeches to the public (“blogspot. com”). Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, known as the KKK didn’t care about what Martin Luther King Jr. had to say. The KKK scared blacks into leaving town by burning homes, crosses, buildings, putting up signs, and killing blacks all over the country. Blacks were portrayed as horrible people in the 1960s (“blogspot. com”). If whites saw blacks somewhere they would call them out their name, and tell their children not to communicate with them and they would ask what’s she or he doing here.
The KKK began a new era of violence in the 1960s. They were upset that African Americans were getting all these rights, and members had to do something about it to show their madness. On Sunday September 15, 1963 The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church a black church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed. Four young girls by the names of Addie Mae Collins 14, Cynthia Wesley 14, Carole Robertson 14, and Denise McNair 11 who decided to attend church that morning were killed by the explosion while attending Sunday school class and twenty-three adults and children were injured (“Ballad of Birmingham”).
Whoever would have thought a good day in church could turn into such a tragedy before service ended? Addie Mae Collins was the daughter of Julius and Alice Collins, born April 18, 1949 becoming one of seven children. She attended Hill Elementary School and was a passionate softball player and budding artist. Her and her family was members of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (“findagrave. com”). Cynthia D. Wesley was born April 30, 1949. She was adopted at birth by two teachers, Claude and Gertrude Wesley. She attended Ullman High School where she did well in reading, math, and band.
Her and her family was members of the church as well (“findagrave. com”). Carole R. Robertson was born April 24, 1949. Her father was a band master at an elementary school and her mother was a librarian. In elementary school she sung in the choir and was a straight A student, member of the science club and marching band at Parker High School. She was also a Girl Scout. Her and her family was also members of the church (“findagrave. com”). Denise McNair was born Carol Denise McNair on November 17, 1951. Her father owned a photo shop and her mother was a school teacher.
She attended Center Street Elementary School where she and Condoleezza Rice were friends. She was a Brownie member; she played baseball, and helped raise money for charities by staging plays, dance routines, and poetry readings. She and her family were also members of the church and she was also the youngest of the girls. The four girls were interred doing a joint funeral which was attended by over 8,000 people (“findagrave. com”). The investigation of the bombing took almost 40 years before the family of the victims gained victory. In 1965 it was announced that Bobby F. Cherry, Robert E.
Chambliss, Herman F. Cash, and Thomas Blanton Jr. had planted the bomb in the basement of the church. The FBI office of Birmingham suggested prosecuting the suspects, but a director of the FBI blocked the prosecution (“tripod. com”). Three years after that charges wasn’t filed and the FBI closed the case (“Ballad of Birmingham”). Come to find out there was a Klan meeting the morning of the bombing where the bomb was planned and the bomb was made. It was confessed by Blanton on a tape that was recorded in 1964, secretly hidden by the FBI (“tripod. com”). In 1971, an Alabama attorney reopened the case.
November 18, 1977, Chambliss was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. 1988 and 1997 the case was reopened again after the FBI received a tip. Cash was still a prime suspect, but he died in 1994 before a case could open against him. May 17, 2000, Cherry and Blanton were charged with the murder of the four girls. Blanton was sentenced life in prison on May 1, 2001. Cherry was charged with four counts of murder and was sentenced life in prison on May 22, 2002 (“tripod. com”). The family and friends of the four girls were happy about the conviction of the Cherry and Blanton.
Everyone could finally rest knowing that they would be in prison all their lives paying for what they did. The Nightmare is over, but the deaths of the four girls are forever alive. The four girls deserve a memorial because not only did it affect the families of the victims, but it affected the people of Birmingham and people from other cities and states; it changed the world drastically. If these young ladies were still alive today they would be in their sixty’s and probably living out their dreams they had once planned, but because of the tragedy they couldn’t fulfill them.
I would invest in a Scholarship Foundation under the four girls and name it “The Second Chance” scholarship foundation. The scholarship will distribute $3,000 to forty young adults who plan to pursue a further education. The memorial would take place at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in the basement in Birmingham, Alabama. The basement of the church would be a great place because this was where the bombing took place killing the four girls. The basement of the church would be set up like an auditorium with many rows of chairs and a nice round stage in front of the room.
Pictures of the girls and the other children will hang on the walls and a picture of the church right after the bombing occurred. Each of the young adults who have qualify for the scholarship and their families would sit down and hear me state a few facts about each of the girl’s lives and talk about the history behind the church. I would like to have the two closet family members of each girl to meet the young people and share information about the girls, and how they spent their days together.
After talking for a few hours, some of the family members of the girls and I would present each of the forty young adults with a $3,000 scholarship check in their name founded under “The Second Chance” scholarship foundation. I think if Addie, Cynthia, Carole, and Denise were still alive they would be excited that I would consider them to have a memorial since no one has for the past couple of decades. Since they didn’t get a chance to live out their own dreams, I think they would be more than happy to let a child under their foundation live out theirs.
“Racism In The 1960’s. ” blogspot. om. Blog Spot, 16 2008. Web. 14 Nov 2012. <http://1960sracism. blogspot. com>. “Newspaper Article on Church Bombing in 1960’s. ” tripod. com.
Tripod. Web. 14 Nov 2012. <http://arcchampman. tripod. com/literature>. . “Addie Mae, Cynthia, Carole, and Denise. ” findagrave. com.
Find A Grave. Web. 14 Nov 2012. <http://www. findagrave. com/cgi-bin/fg. cgi? GRid=6433252&page=gr>.
The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. ” Ballad of Birmingham. www. balladofbirmingham. com. Web. 14 Nov 2012. <http://www. english. illinois. edu/maps/poets/m_r/randall/birmingham. htm>.
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