Unit 7 Summative Birmingham Church Bombing: Priya Phifer

  • Background Information: What lead to this event happening? White Supremacy was the main cause of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. The attack was a racially motivated act of terrorism.
  • When and where did this happen? The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing occurred on September 15th, 1993 at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a general meeting place for civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.
16th Street Baptist Church after the attack
  • Goal of the Event: What was the event trying to accomplish? The goal of this event was to establish white supremacy. Many people blamed governor George Wallace, who told New York Times that a few “first class funerals” were needed to stop integration. All criminals involved were members of the Klu Klux Clan, clearly showing their racist intentions.
  • Who was involved?: Demographics (what type of people were involved)? Many of the people involved were black Sunday school students and other churchgoers. These include the fatalities which of four Sunday school children, all of whom were black. The four killed included 14 year old Carole Robertson, 14 year old Addie Mae, 14 year old Cynthia Wesley and Denise Mcnair. Up to 24 people were injured during the attacks, including the sister of Addie who told her own story of this tragic day in an interview.
  • This is the story of a survivor: video
  • What important people were involved in your event and how did they impact the event? Members of the Klu Klux Klan were the main influence of this event. The predominant attacker in the bombing was Robert Chambliss, A.K.A. Dynamite Bob. He impacted people by causing civil rights to be a more significant cause of the 1960’s. He showed the rest of the United States that there were still extremists.
Terrorist Robert Edward Chambliss, the Birmingham Bomber

Obstacles they had to overcome: What kind of obstacles were these groups facing? Blacks were facing severe oppression during this time. Predominantly the south was still holding onto sayings such as “separate but equal” and “white is the superior race”. Since Alabama was in the south, these black children and adults faced inequalities daily. People like Politician, Bull Connor were constantly pushing the civil rights movement in the opposite direction. Connor was all for enforcing segregation and was willing to do everything in his power to ensure blacks do not receive equality.

Racist Politician Bull Connor

How did they overcome these obstacles? They mostly overcame these obstacles through the African-American Civil Rights movement, however, racism is still around today. The movement lasted from 1954-1968. This movement used things such as nonviolent protests and sit-ins. These forms of protest brought on things like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 this “banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in employment practices and ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace, and by public accommodations.” Overtime, tradition of white supremacy declined, which slowed the spread of the Klu Klux Klan and other forms of racism.

Outcome/Lasting impact of the event: How did this event impact today / What are the lasting effects? This event impacted today through the loss of these children at a meeting place of some of the main Civil Rights activists. This event was also one of the first in which African Americans were humanized by those of the white community. Racism is still occurring due to the need for control of many whites. People today are still oppressed due to this event and the amount of racism still happening today, specifically in the south.

Pulse Nightclub after a tragic shooting left 49 dead

Modern Inequality: What modern day inequality or event can you connect your Civil Rights Event to? I can connect my Civil Rights Event to the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting. Today, the LGBTQ+ community is oppressed in a similar way. Because being part of this community is “different”, many hate crimes are committed toward them, an example of this being the Pulse Nightclub shooting. The motive behind this event was to harm as many people possible because the perpetrator didn’t agree with the decisions of those at the Nightclub. This is much like the Birmingham bombings because it was an action of one person or a small group of people that caused many people to lose their lives. In this attack 49 innocent lives were lost, like in the Birmingham bombings, 4 innocent lives were lost. The LGBTQ+ community is now working toward equality, much like African-Americans were in the Civil Rights Movement.

Created By
Priya Phifer

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