Good evening! Welcome to Friday Confessional. Thanks to Sweet Aubrey @ High-Heeled Love for hosting!
I confess that I was blessed last Monday to hear Carolyn Maull McKinstry speak at a church luncheon. She is a very accomplished woman, and given her busy schedule because she is very much in demand, we were lucky that she made the time to join us and share her story with us.
Carolyn primarily spoke about her book she published a couple of years ago entitled While the World Watched. Carolyn survived the 1953 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church here in Birmingham. Her book has gotten even more attention this year as it's the fiftieth anniversary of that horrible day.
I was completely engrossed as Carolyn told about the events that day. It was Youth Day at the church. I also grew-up Baptist, and Youth Day is a really big deal in the Baptist church. All the young people were wearing their white shirts and dresses. Youth would be singing in the services, teaching Sunday School classes, and taking-up the offering. Carolyn was the church secretary for the day, and she recorded the Sunday School statistics for that day. She had just passed by the girls' bathroom and saw the girls before she went upstairs to the church office to complete her duties. She answered the phone right before the bomb exploded that was a threat: "Three minutes!" Well, it was more like fifteen seconds when the bomb went off killing four little girls. Ironically, the title of the Sunday School lesson for that day was "A Love That Forgives."
I cannot imagine anything more frightening than this. Historically churches have always been a safe-haven: There's a reason that the nave of the church is often called the sanctuary. I cannot imagine going to church with my high school friends and enduring a bombing and the deaths of my friends. I cannot imagine being able to forgive the men responsible for it. But Carolyn forgave them.
I confess that Carolyn McKinstry humbles me.
While the World Watched is a very important, well-written book. I enjoyed reading about the Civil Rights Movement from Carolyn's perspective. She marched with Dr. King and others. She lived history! It was difficult reading about the arrests of the students, the Jim Crow Laws, and the sadness the community suffered through violence. The book also includes excerpts from many famous civil rights speeches and photos of Carolyn, her family, and scenes from the civil rights struggle.
And now, on to the giveaway!!!
But I'm not finished with my confessions yet. This is the front page of The Birmingham News on September 19, 2013: