The limits of forgiveness, the power of our votes

Yesterday, the State of Alabama denied parole to the murderer of these children.

(From WikiMedia: clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair)

These girls were killed for one reason: hatred of the color of their skin.

We are often called upon to forgive (and forget – now that we are post-racial!) but these four girls should never be forgotten and their murderers should never be set free.

Say their names:
– Addie Mae Collins
– Cynthia Wesley
– Carole Robertson
– Carol Denise McNair

We must never again allow racism and bigotry to be accepted as the norm. We must forcefully reject a political party, the Republican Party, where politicians who embrace the rhetoric of white supremacy can be nominated for the highest office in the land. Reject hatred, reject bigotry, reject Republicans.

The only way to end discrimination is to keep the power to make laws out of the hands of those who do not recognize the worth of every person.

Vote. And then when you finish voting, help someone else to vote.

From the History Channel:

On September 15, a bomb exploded before Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama–a church with a predominantly black congregation that served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders. Four young girls were killed and many other people injured; outrage over the incident and the violent clash between protesters and police that followed helped draw national attention to the hard-fought, often dangerous struggle for civil rights for African Americans. […]

Precisely because of its reputation as a stronghold for white supremacy, civil rights activists made Birmingham a major focus of their efforts to desegregate the Deep South.

Black churches were and are the heart and soul of the civil rights movement and often the target of hatred and bigotry:

Many of the civil rights protest marches that took place in Birmingham during the 1960s began at the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which had long been a significant religious center for the city’s black population and a routine meeting place for civil rights organizers like King. KKK members had routinely called in bomb threats intended to disrupt civil rights meetings as well as services at the church.

At 10:22 a.m. on the morning of September 15, 1963, some 200 church members were in the building–many attending Sunday school classes before the start of the 11 am service–when the bomb detonated on the church’s east side, spraying mortar and bricks from the front of the church and caving in its interior walls. Most parishioners were able to evacuate the building as it filled with smoke, but the bodies of four young girls (14-year-old Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson and 11-year-old Denise McNair) were found beneath the rubble in a basement restroom. Ten-year-old Sarah Collins, who was also in the restroom at the time of the explosion, lost her right eye, and more than 20 other people were injured in the blast.

Justice can never be achieved while the unjust control the justice system:

Though Birmingham’s white supremacists (and even certain individuals) were immediately suspected in the bombing, repeated calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice went unanswered for more than a decade. It was later revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had information concerning the identity of the bombers by 1965 and did nothing. (J. Edgar Hoover, then-head of the FBI, disapproved of the civil rights movement; he died in 1972.) In 1977, Alabama Attorney General Bob Baxley reopened the investigation and Klan leader Robert E. Chambliss was brought to trial for the bombings and convicted of murder. Continuing to maintain his innocence, Chambliss died in prison in 1985. The case was again reopened in 1980, 1988 and 1997, when two other former Klan members, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry, were finally brought to trial; Blanton was convicted in 2001 and Cherry in 2002. (A fourth suspect, Herman Frank Cash, died in 1994 before he could be brought to trial.)



  1. Last night, Trump supporter Clint Eastwood, born in 1930, bemoaned the “political correctness” of having to keep one’s racism under wraps:

  2. From NPR

    Alabama’s attorney general, Luther Strange, also lodged an official protest against granting Blanton parole. “The cold-blooded callousness of his hate crime is not diminished by the passage of time, nor is any punishment sufficient to expunge the evil he unleashed,” he said, and added that Blanton has “never shown any remorse whatsoever.”

    Why would he show remorse? The Republican Party, the party of cold-blooded callousness and hate, has never shown remorse for creating the Southern Strategy, letting Lee Atwater design their angry white voter outreach, and unleashed evil by nominating a racist for the presidency.

  3. In 1971 Morris Dees, Julian Bond, and Joe Levin founded The Southern Poverty Law Center to help since the criminal justice system ignored the problem even when it’s not complicit which it usually is. They’re still tracking hate groups – and ruining as many as possible financially at least via civil law suits. Someday maybe they won’t be necessary any longer. I hope.

  4. Some crimes are too heinous to “forgive.” I personally think “forgiveness” is vastly overrated. To me it seems to be something men invented to get themselves off the hook with women.

    Funny, I never seem to hear of men forgiving women for anything. Perhaps that’s because more than 90 percent of all crimes are committed by men? Wonder if testosterone-dilution programs would help.

  5. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie talks about a new spirit in the Democratic Party shared with the country from the party’s nominating convention:
    Infused with the spirit of the black church, the Democrats became the party of optimism.

    On Monday alone there was Michelle Obama and her forceful defense of America’s “greatness” and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s attempt to raise his profile with a soaring national speech. All week long, if you craved a message of optimism, your best bet was a brown or black face. But that makes sense. Despite deep problems of discrimination and racial inequality, it’s nonwhites—blacks, Hispanics, and other groups—who have the most optimistic view of the United States and its future. For them, the country is closer than not to its self-conception as a city on the hill, and for good reason. If you’re black, if you’re Latino, if you’re gay—life is unquestionably better now than it was in the past. […]

    In ways small and large, the lifeblood of the Democratic National Convention was the black church. You saw this, in a literal way, with the stream of black politicians and black religious leaders who took the stage. The Rev. William Barber, the North Carolina preacher and head of his state’s NAACP who founded the “Moral Mondays” movement, gave a speech that was emblematic of the language on display, a language and cadence drawn from the traditions of the black church. […]

    Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver kept up this theme of defiant optimism in his peroration on Thursday. “They threw her down as the first lady, but she didn’t stay throwed!” he bellowed, referring to Hillary Clinton. “They threw her down as a U.S. senator, but she wouldn’t stay throwed! They threw her down as a secretary of state, but she wouldn’t stay throwed! They threw her down in this very campaign—this campaign—but she won’t stay throwed! No, she ain’t gonna stay throwed! She won’t stay throwed! She won’t stay throwed!” […]

    … pay attention to the tenor of this optimism, to the rhythms of its expression. It isn’t the self-satisfaction of Reagan, champion of the status quo. It is hard-won hope, an optimism born of struggle. It’s the “Mothers of the Movement,” whose grief fuels hopeful activism. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and urging you to say their names,” said Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, who was slain in 2012. “We’re going to keep building a future where police officers and communities of color work together in mutual respect to keep children, like Jordan, safe.” It’s the difference between Reagan’s eternal lights “in this springtime of hope” and Maya Angelou’s “still I rise,” one of the refrains of this week. […]

    The Thursday session of the Democratic National Convention opened with a procession and color guard from Civil War re-enactors, who arrived on stage in full regalia. These weren’t any re-enactors. They were re-enactors of the United States Colored Troops, the regiments of free and newly freed blacks who fought for their freedom in the Civil War. Their courage and valor was one of the catalysts for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery.

    He concludes:

    The Democratic Party believes that Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy—a threat to our experiment in representative government. At its essence, this convention is their first inaugural, their message to a country on the eve of a world-defining election. “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it,” said Lincoln in his address. Grounding themselves in an optimism born of struggle, Democrats are asking those people to continue the struggle for equality, the fight to make a “more perfect union.” To turn back Trump and assert the dignity of all Americans, hopeful that with hard work, the problems of today will give way to better prospects and a better future.

  6. I still feel the pain deep in my soul and gut – when I look at their faces and remember that bombing. I was 16 at the time – and will never, ever forget that act of terrorism.

    • When I saw that the murderer was up for consideration for parole, I was worried. Thanks goodness it was denied.

      Whenever I see those faces, I want to both cry and cry out at the injustice. That we are seeing this sort of hatred celebrated in 2016 is discouraging but also a reminder that we can’t let Republicans control the Justice Department ever again.

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