Birmingham World - Sept. 18, 1963


Lethal dynamite has made Sunday, September 15, 1963, a Day of Sorrow and Shame in Birmingham, Alabama, the world's chief city of unsolved racial bombings.

Four or more who were attending Sunday School at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on the day of Sorrow and Shame were killed. Their bodies were stacked up on top of each other like bales of hay from the crumbling ruins left by the dynamiting. They were girls. They were children. They were members of the the Negro group. They were victims of cruel madness, the vile bigotry and the deadly hate of unknown persons.

Society in a free country has a solemn responsibility to itself and those who make it up. Free men are bound by an irrevocable civic contract to safeguard the rights, safety, and security of all of its members. This is the basic issue in what is happening in Birmingham. The continued unsolved racial bombings tend to suggest the deterioration of society in this city.

Our neighborhood and church leaders has also the challenge of seeking some lofty, but real self-defense strategy and technique. Patience is a human element and subject to no less frailties. The unsolved bombings have taxed patience and aroused unquenchable fears - fears of police, of the sincerity of public leaders, and of the quality of Negro leadership in this City of Sorrow and Shame.

To the families of the bombed victims, the Birmingham World offers its sympathy. To the pastor and the members of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church we offer a friendly hand. We are angered by the murderous bombing ad shocked by the lack of solution. The Birmingham World has been in the struggle against this kind of insanity, intolerance, disrespect of the House of God, defiance of established law, and disregard of human values since its beginning which the bombings substantiate. We shall try to carry on in the struggle, believing in the divine goodness. We have that overcoming faith in a Higher Being to guide us.

Those who died in the September 15,bombing also died serving the Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified. This will be an unforgettable day in our nation, in world history,; in the new rebellion of which the Confederate flags seem to symbolize. Yet, if members of the Negro group pour into the churches on Sunday, stream to the voter-registration offices, make their dollars talk freedom, and build up a better leadership, those children might not have died in vain.

The Negro group in Birmingham is unhappy. The Negro group is dissatisfied with the kind of protection they are getting. The Negro group is disturbed when law enforcement remains all-white in Birmingham and in Jefferson County. The Negro group is disappointed with the lack of more help from the Federal Government. This makes Birmingham a city of uneasiness for the Negro group.

Where does Birmingham go from here? The huge bomb reward fund grows bigger, but the bombings solution does not seem to be near. Governor George Wallace says he stands for law and order but he seems to attract the support of the negative forces whose credo inspires less. From the lips of the Governor come assertions which seem to imply defiance of the Supreme Court decision on schools.

Is Birmingham a sick city? We cannot answer for sure. There are tensions because there is fear...there is a feeling of diminishing faith in City Hall to measure up to the responsibility of the kind of municipal leadership needed in his City of Sorrow and Shame. The killers of the innocents have challenged the conscience of decent person everywhere.

Neither the living who were bombed nor those who have not been bombed should give ground to the bombers. The United States government and other law enforcement agents must leave no stone unturned until the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice.

The Montgomery Advertiser Sept. 16, 1963
by Arthur Osgood

All Birmingham waited with taut nerves Sunday night for a possible major eruption of racial violence.

City police and state Troopers covered the city in an all out effort to hold the lid tight. Streets were almost deserted as citizens heeded Mayor Albert Boutwell's plea, "Please stay home tonight."

But at police headquarters reports of death and violence kept coming in late into the night.

A 16-year-old Negro boy was reported shot and killed by a policeman after a rock-throwing incident.

A white man was reported shot.

Another Negro boy was reported slain while riding a bicycle.

A firebomb was reported thrown at a Negro home on "Dynamite Hill," which got its name from previous racial troubles.

A larger fire was reported several minutes later on Fourth Avenue South, several blocks away.

A Negro was reported wildly firing a shotgun.

Rocks were hurled at cars in various parts of the city.

Less than a block from City Hall, a police wagon stopped to pick up a Negro who was obviously drunk. He yelled wildly inside the wagon.

A clump of white men converged on the wagon until warned back by police.

"I wish I could have gotten hold of him," muttered a young white man as the wagon pulled off.

But inside the adjacent bus station whites and Negroes sat quietly side by side.

Across the street an elderly white man was commenting to a friend, "It's a helluva comeoff when they start bombing churches and killing innocent people."

Inside City Hall, before which stood scores of helmeted State Troopers, a wary Albert Boutwell commented to newsmen in a masterpiece of understatement.

"There is considerable excitement in our city."

He retired with other city officials to draw up an appeal for law and order.....

Birmingham World Sept. 25, 1963
by Robert Gordon

Hundreds of Negroes attended separate funerals Sunday to pay their final respects to two teenage boys killed in the aftermath of last Sunday's racial bombing.

The services punctuated by loud sorrowful wails, were for Virgil Ware, 13, and Johnnie Robinson, 16.

Ware was killed by two white youths as he rode on a bicycle last Sunday with his brother several hours after the bombing. Robinson was killed by a policeman after he was caught throwing rocks at cars carrying white persons.

Four Negro girls killed in the bomb blast at the 16th Street Baptist Church were buried last week.

Two white boys are being held in the slaying of Ware. They are both 16 and both eagle Scouts.

"Not only are we here for the funeral of Johnnie Robinson, but I think we can say we are here for the funeral of Birmingham," said the Rev. A.L. Woods.

"There may be elements in this city that don't care that Johnnie Robinson was shot in the back by a policeman, but I would like for you to know that Jesus cares," he said.  Two white ministers took part in the services.

Negro leaders including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have protested the shooting as unnecessary and blamed it on alleged police brutality.

Police were reported to have made conflicting statements on Robinson's death. A grand jury investigation has been requested. On the day of the shooting, police said Robinson was throwing stones at cars as he fled from police, and after he had been warned to stop, officials said.

Six Dead After Church Bombing
United Press International

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