Clifton Casey: How His Children Are Affected - Click to view video - Turn up the volume.

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meeting the Foot Soldiers of the Movement

See the photograph of Janice in 1963 in a makeshift jail. There are two girls in the center, facing the camera and smiling. The one on the left is Janice Kelsey. In the photo below, Janice is the third from your left. She tells her story because she feels she must, but she still has a tough time holding back the emotion as she revisits this tumultuous time.
On Thursday, a highlight of this seminar was hearing from, meeting, and discussing the experiences of the "foot soldiers" of the Civil Rights Movement. These people were not leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth, but they played a part in an event that was to be a pivotal point in history. On May 2nd, 1963, children and teenagers met at the 16th Street Baptist Church as a launching arena for an organized march through town. Many only got a few feet from the church before they were arrested. Makeshift jails ended up housing over 2,000 African American children. You are familiar with the images of the events the following day when the police and firemen used powerful hoses and dogs to turn back protesters. The panel members in the photo are, from left to right, Dr. Horace Huntley, Myrna Carter Jackson, Janice Kelsey, and Clifton Casey.
Finally, Doug Jones, former U.S. District Attorney, narrated the story of how his team was able to convict two of the bombers 24 years later. Absolutely riveting. There is much to tell, but not much time to share it. As I close tonight's blog, it is 11:26 p.m., and we leave the hotel at 6:15 in the morning to visit Tuskegee, Montgomery, and Selma. Perhaps I'll get some time to blog during our travel tomorrow.

We have also been to the 16th Street Baptist Church for a history tour, and will attend a church service there on Sunday. One reason this church is remembered is because four months after the Children's March on September 15th, a bomb exploded killing four little girls who were preparing to participate in the youth worship service. Our docent, Dennis, narrated the story of what occured that day and how families, the community, and the nation reacted.

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