The Library of Congress wishes to bring to your attention a new agile case display “Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing, September 15, 1963.” This exhibit memorializes that traumatic event that took place fifty-five years ago, when four young girls were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while attending Sunday school. The victims were: Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Diane Wesley.
We invite you to come and view the items on display where we highlight works from the Library’s collections documenting the climate before the bombing, the involvement of black churches, the role of children in the civil rights movement, the terror of the Ku Klux Klan, the suffering and sorrow of the community, and the courtroom drama that ensued.
In addition to selected books from the General Collections, the exhibit includes photographs taken on the day of the funeral from the Prints and Photographs Division, and a work from the Manuscript Division, “A Call for Calmness and Restraint during the Racial Crisis,” the press release issued nine days before the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where Revered Fred Shuttlesworth of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights outlined strategies for the black population’s response to the racial crisis in Birmingham. Rev. Shuttlesworth asserted that “we have come this far by faith—not by violence.” His press release listed six ways that “Negroes can contribute to calmness and a peaceful atmosphere in the days immediately ahead.” Despite immeasurable efforts undertaken by the black community to “overcome evil with good,” the Klan bombed the church and killed four little girls. Later that same day, two young black boys were also murdered.
The installation, located on the second floor of the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building, may be viewed through November 8, 2018. The display was curated by Sibyl E. Moses, Researcher and Reference Services Division.
Library Of Congress – Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St SE, Washington, DC 20540