by liberal japonicus
I'm back and in the process of writing a post about my travels, but this guest post on LGM by Robert Widdell caught my eye as I was catching up. It discusses the 50th anniversary of the 16th St. Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and specifically, it was this passage:
In this context, then, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church is less the story of an event that would further galvanize white support for the national movement and more a cruel reminder that, on the local level, Jim Crow was alive and well. In fact, Birmingham’s well-deserved reputation as a particularly violent defender of white supremacy – garnering the city the name “Bombingham” – meant that from a local perspective the bombing was in many ways business as usual.
Widdell is correct that we often think of the bombing as just a threat that hung over the black community in the whole of the deep south, but it was actually a tactic. This is from a transcript of an Amy Goodman interview of Angela Davis
But I’ve often pointed out that some of my very earliest childhood memories, are the sounds of dynamite exploding. Homes across the street from where I grew up were bombed when they were purchased by black people who were moving into a neighborhood that had been zoned for whites. So many bombings took place in the neighborhood where I grew up. And we know now that Chambliss was probably responsible. That the neighborhood came to be called “Dynamite Hill”. And of course as you know, the city of Birmingham was known as “Bombingham”. In fact on September 4, 1963, less than two weeks before the 16th Street church bombing, the home of the leading civil rights attorney in Birmingham, Arthur Shores was bombed. And that house was right down the street from our house.
This reminded me of the Kathy Ainsworth and Thomas Tarrents case. I learned about the Ainsworth case (which is notable because she was a kindergarten school teacher by day and a bomber by night) from a professor's book (Outside the Southern Myth) about his reminiscences of growing up in my hometown, but when I looked for a link to the story, the only one was to the Metapedia, a right wing nationalist version of the Wikipedia.
However, it seems like bombing was a tactic. Elsewhere in the book, my professor notes Hattiesburg, which makes an appearance in Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, there was 'plenty of racial turmoil in the 60's=some murders, at least one racial rape, some bombings'. More digging reveals it was tactic rather than threat.
In this age of data crunching, rather than treat the Church bombing as an isolated incident, a better memorial might be to go thru the records and create a map showing the locations of all the bombings, not just in Birmingham, but across the south.