September is a month strained by tragedy, blood and innocent lives lost. The ninth month is remembered for 9/11, the dreadful day when a terrorist group coordinated attacks to hijack four different planes and crash them in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There were a total of 2,978 victims killed. 9/11 will forever be remembered in the American history.
However, 9/11 is not the only tragedy to occur in the month of September.
In September 15, 1963, racism took the lives of four little girls in a bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a Sunday morning before service.
Four innocent African-American girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Carole Robertson (age 14), Cynthia Wesley (age 14), and Denise McNair (age 11) attended the church for the morning Sunday school. In a normal Sunday morning, no one could have imagined the twisted plan to bomb the church. Four members of the Klu Klux Klan had planted a bomb with at least 15 sticks of dynamite in the church.
The bomb was placed in the basement with a delayed timer. Five girls went down to use the ladies’ room in the basement when the bomb went off, killing four of the girls instantly and injuring 22 people, including Addie Mae Collins’ sister, Sarah Collins who was the fifth girl in the basement.
The bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church was a turning point in the civil rights movement. It was an act of racism and terrorism by four white supremacists –Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, Robert Chambliss, and Bobby Frank Cherry –who were not convicted for the murders until 1977.
Now, 54 years later, Sarah Collins (now Sarah Collins Rudolph) returned to the church to visit her sister’s memorial and recalled the traumatic act or terrorism. Collins was severely injured during the bombing, she lost an eye and had several facial reconstructive surgeries. The survivor suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and has written a book, The Fifth Little Girl: Soul Survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, where she describes the horrific experience.
It has been 54 years since the horrible act of racism and hate took the life of four innocent girls and we cannot say that hate crimes have stopped. Racism is plaguing America once again, not that it has ever stopped, but with Donald Trump as president, the liberty to express it has intensified. Trump continues to rant about how he will end the terrorist group ISIS, but is he aware that most acts of terrorism in America are internal?
In the 54th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, America cannot find comfort in saying that these hateful acts do not happen in our country anymore. Just last month, a woman, Heather Heyer, died after being run over by a white supremacist as she protested against the white nationalists at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
With this recent events, I expected larger coverage in the anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, but while every news platform remembered 9/11, articles and mentions in the news lacked greatly on the 54th anniversary of the church bombing. Did we forget the four little girls?
America needs to remember that most terrorists are not outsiders, they are Americans. This is what we need to be taught in history lessons.