Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Legacy of Four Little Girls

On this day 50 years ago, four little girls were killed in Birmingham, Alabama's 16th Street Baptist Church, as they prepared to for worship. They were killed by three white men in response to the demonstrations in that city which protested segregation. Those protests and this heinous act of violence, along with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November of that same year, would be the catalysts for the landmark Civil Rights Act legislation of 1964. 

When people ask why we can't simply 'get over race', or why we are so sensitive to issues of racism. We should remember the names of four little girls: Carole Robertson, Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley. These are four girls who didn't get to graduate high school. Never became the doctors, teachers, mothers or church leaders they might have become, because of racial hate. We should remind them that these were little girls whose classmates, and church members, still remember them and miss them. They have parents who suffered anguish that most of us will never know, because of that hatred. 

We should remind those who asked the question, that they were killed by men who had safe places where they could use the 'N' word and so objectify people who weren't like them, that they thought nothing of bombing a house of worship. They had friends and family, who didn't stop them when they spewed hatred. They had co-workers, or employers from whom they could express bigotry without consequence because it was 'the norm'. And there were people who knew who that they bombed the church who didn't speak up because of fear of reprisal or because they agreed. 

And we should remind them that dull memories in the face of such hatred and bigotry, is the fertile ground out of which such unimaginably reprehensible acts grow. We should tell them, we've lost too many other girls, men, women and boys to racial hatred and violence. We've don't need anymore sacrifices like this. 

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