Sept. 15 is one of the saddest days in history: What monster would do this to children?
By Dr. Tyra Seldon
Getting dressed and heading to church is a familiar routine for many Black families. Young children sauntering to Sunday School with Bibles in their hands is often enough to melt the hearts of adults who watch attentively and admiringly. The church has often been a sacred place for families to worship, commune and solidify their belief system.
On Sept 15, 1963, what should have been a normal Sunday school session left an indelible mark on American history when the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
On that day, 55 years ago today, four children perished. The world lost: 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley.
There is no telling what greatness these young ladies would have contributed to humanity. Instead, a cowardly, racist member of the Ku Klux Klan decided to unleash his hatred by bombing a church and destroying the innocence of many in attendance and those who knew and loved those young ladies.
One of their peers, Dr. Condoleezza Rice grew up to become one of the highest ranking political officials when she became the 66th United States Secretary of State during the George W. Bush administration.
Before a group of civic leaders in Birmingham, she recently recounted, “As an eight-year-old, you don’t think about terror of this kind.”
As racial strife unfolded throughout the South, the routines of many young children were interrupted. Activities such as going downtown or venturing out of one’s neighborhood became too dangerous.
“There was no sanctuary. There was no place really safe,” Rice added.
On that sad day, Rice’s friend, Denise, was one of the victims. She reminded the audience that, “Everyone in the Black community knew one of those girls.”
As the nation pauses to remember this travesty, let us all remember the unimaginable sacrifice that Denise, Carole, Addie Mae and Cynthia made on Sept. 15, 2013, in the timeless words of poet Rudyard Kipling, “Lest We Forget.”
Tyra Seldon, Ph.D, is an educator, educational consul-tant and freelance writer; who is passionate about eradicating educational disparities. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org