“… for the church today as we live in an era of increased organizing around racial injustice, the renewed rise of white supremacy, and white terrorism. ”
The most well-known church bombing happened on September 15, 1963 at 16th Street Baptist Church, resulting in the deaths of four little girls. This was just one of the forty-four or so black church related bombings in Birmingham, AL 1947-1965.
Racially motivated arson or bombings of black churches became a familiar part of the resistance to the Civil Rights Movement, but this form of racial violence and terror, has not received the same level of scholarship and attention as other forms of racial violence i.e. lynching. No city experienced the same level of bombing violence as Birmingham. This project is a first step in understanding the social, cultural, economic, and social movement context that shape or give rise to church bombings by looking in-depth at the city of Birmingham, AL and the forty-four bombings of black churches, 1947-1965.
Relying on the extensive archives of primary material in the in the Civil Rights Movement and Birmingham archives at the Birmingham Public Library I will collect data around each particular bombing event: including lists of black churches, civil rights organizing and events, white citizen council events and activities, KKK events, and police enforcement; along with economic and demographic indicators from census data.
The immediate goal of the project is to explore social, cultural, economic and social movement/organizing context around the bombings in historic Birmingham in the hopes of developing an understanding of the dynamics of racially motivated church bombings.