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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

While The World Watched

“Tension and fear continued to stalk our city.  We knew the rules had changed.  Our neighborhoods had been bombed before, but no one had ever been killed.  Until now.  The message gnawed away at the corners of our hearts: “You can kill black people.  It’s okay, because even if someone is arrested, no one goes to jail for it.”    Black life was cheap.

                 While The World Watched – p. 171

In her personal memoir, While The World Watched, Birmingham bombing survivor Carolyn Maull McKinstry relives the brutal, painful memories of September 15, 1963 – the day she escaped death by mere seconds.

As a young teenage old girl happily working in her church that fateful Sunday morning, Carolyn’s innocence was shattered as she lost 4 of her closest friends in the racially motivated attack on the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.  Forever changed and haunted by this horrible tragedy, Carolyn shares her experience and what followed in the days after the bombing.  

This book is not a pleasant read and is at times horribly graphic.  If anyone were able to read this book and not weep for the injustices and brutalities, I would be surprised.  From the bombings, intimidation tactics, protests, marches and rallies, Carolyn shares it all in this book from the perspective of someone who has lived it.  Carolyn participated in the children’s march in 1963 in which she faced violent streams of water from fireman’s hoses that bruised her face and ripped off portions of her hair.  By the time the march was over, 2,000 children had been arrested and were held at the local fairgrounds in livestock pens.

For those who have little background knowledge of the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, this is an excellent place to start if you would like to learn more.   All through the book Carolyn includes samples of speeches and quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy who were working together to break the strongholds of inequality during the 1960’s.

This book was provided free for review by Tyndale


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From the Publisher:
On September 15, 1963, a Klan-planted bomb went off in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Fourteen-year-old Carolyn Maull was just a few feet away when the bomb exploded, killing four of her friends in the girl’s rest room she had just exited. It was one of the seminal moments in the Civil Rights movement, a sad day in American history . . . and the turning point in a young girl’s life.

While the World Watched is a poignant and gripping eyewitness account of life in the Jim Crow South—from the bombings, riots and assassinations to the historic marches and triumphs that characterized the Civil Rights movement.

A uniquely moving exploration of how racial relations have evolved over the past 5 decades, While the World Watched is an incredible testament to how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.

About the Author:

Carolyn Maull McKinstry
Carolyn Maull McKinstry is a survivor of the Civil Rights struggle and an eyewitness to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. As a teenager, she marched under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and bravely faced Bull Connor's German shepherds and stinging fire hoses during the battle for equal rights in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.
Now, nearly fifty years after the bombing, Carolyn is still an active member of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, serves as president of the Sixteenth Street Foundation, and works full time spreading her message of racial reconciliation.
A highly sought-after speaker, she has appeared on Oprah, 20/20, CNN, and MSNBC, and portions of her story have been featured in Life magazine and USA Today. She has made numerous television and documentary appearances, including Spike Lee's documentary Four Little Girls; Soledad O'Brien's Black in America; Brian Williams's Shades of Progress, Shadows of Hate; and Family Network's We Shall Not Be Moved.

Carolyn has addressed audiences in New Delhi, Mumbai, Barcelona, and the Italian Baptist Evangelical Union in Rome, as well as the Rosa Parks Museum, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and numerous colleges and universities.

She recently received her master of divinity from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, where she currently lives with her husband, Jerome.

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