“Not many young people can pinpoint the exact date, time, and place they grew up and became an adult. I can. It was September 15, 1963, 10:22 a.m., at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.”
While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry (with Denise George) is a moving memoir of horror and forgiveness. What struck me almost every page is that this happened less than 50 years ago. The title kept being played in my head with the question, “How could the world simply let this happen?”
The book details the accounts of the murders of Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley who died when Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed. More than that though, it details the struggles of of the civil rights movement through the eyes of the author. It is simply an amazing account of two wars. One, the fight for equality for Black America, and two, the fight for meaning in the heart of a young girl who was forever changed in a moment.
I have to admit that I did not think I would enjoy this book. I assumed it would be of the “all whites are evil” variety. It was nothing of the sort. There was horror, but there was also hope. There was tragedy, but there was also triumph. There was hatred, but it was not ultimately returned - there was forgiveness.
As I finished, the same question continues to haunt me, “How could this happen?” And yet tragedy continues to flourish and the world still remains silent. But that, is for another post. I will be attempting to contact the author in hopes of doing an interview for the blog. I would love to dive deeper into this story. We'll see what happens.
A couple of theological issues aside, my children will be reading this book; they will not forget, and they will never simply “watch”.
Love in the Truth.
Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.