On a recent trip to Birmingham I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Across the street from the Institute on the side is the 16ths Street Baptist Church. Directly across the street on the front side is Kelly Ingram Park. This complex is steep in the history of Birmingham and the Civil Rights movement in this country.
The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was bombed by white supremacist terrorists on September 15, 1963. Four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted 19 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the steps on the east side of the church.
There were four girls were killed in the attack: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair, and between 14 and 22 other people were injured.
Martin Luther King Jr. described the bombing as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes perpetrated against humanity.”
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing marked a turning point in the United States during the civil rights movement and contributed to support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by Congress.
In the years leading up to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Birmingham had earned a national reputation as a tense, violent, and racially segregated city, in which racial integration was met with violent resistance. Martin Luther King Jr. described Birmingham as “probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.”
The Four Spirits sculpture was unveiled at Kelly Ingram Park on September 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Church bombing. The sculpture was crafted by Birmingham-born sculptor Elizabeth MacQueen and designed as a memorial to the four girls killed in the bombing. It depicts the four girls in preparation for the church sermon at the 16th Street Baptist Church in the moments immediately before the explosion. The youngest girl killed in the explosion (Carol Denise McNair) is depicted releasing six doves into the air as she stands tiptoed and barefooted upon a bench another barefooted girl (Addie Mae Collins) is depicted kneeling upon the bench, affixing a dress sash to McNair; a third girl (Cynthia Wesley) is depicted sitting upon the bench alongside McNair and Collins with a book in her lap. The book depicts a refrain from William Butler Yeats’ poem, The Stolen Child. The fourth girl (Carole Robertson) is depicted standing and smiling as she motions the other three girls to attend their church sermon. At the base of the sculpture is an inscription of the name of the sermon the four girls were to attend prior to the bombing—”A Love that Forgives.”
My visit was quite a history lesson. It is one I believe everyone should be aware of and, in my opinion should be taught in schools all across America and not covered up. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.
ANNOUNCER: Good evening, ladies, and gentlemen, and welcome to MEET THE REVEREND! A thirty-minute question and answer show where issues of national importance are discussed with prominent individuals from our society and the world at large.
Our guest this evening will be former president, Jimmy Joe Starter from Monkey’s Eyebrows, Kentucky…and to start the questioning will be the host of our show- Reverend Billy Bob Weatherspoon of the Space Chapel of Life.
REV. BILLY: Thank you, Fred. Friends, I want to welcome y’all here to my new weekly show, MEET THE REVEREND! I’m sure y’all are going to enjoy it. I know I am. And be sure to tell all your friends and relatives to tune in too and just keep those contributions rolling in…cause ya know, it cost so much money to appear on TV and it cost so much money to spread the word…and friends you all know how much I like to spread the word.
And now…I’d like to welcome our guest, President Jimmy Joe Starter!
JIMMY JOE: Please…call me Jimmy Joe.
REV. BILLY: Why I’d be happy to Jimmy Joe…and you can call me Rev. Billy.
JIMMY JOE: Okay Reverend Billy. Ya know, I’ve got a brother named Billy. He’s kind of the black sheep of the family. Of course, when we were growing up back in Monkey’s Eyebrows, we always used to call him the goat. You know Billy Goat…that’s because he’d eat anything he’d put his hands on. I’d be going, “Now Billy, don’t be going putting your hand on that. Well, as you can imagine it got pretty embarrassing sometimes. (Big smile)
REV. BILLY: Monkey’s Eyebrows…Now that’s a strange name for a town. I wonder…I wonder if you could shed some light on that for us, Jimy Joe. Just why do they call your town Monkey’s Eyebrows?
JIMMY JOE: (Blank stare) Ya know…I don’t rightly know…but I’ll be glad to look that up for you and get back to you sometime next week.
REV. BILLY: No, that won’t be necessary Jimmy Joe. Now, Jimmy Joe, what would you say was the biggest surprise of your administration? Was it anything as surprising as the Iran/Contra affair or Ollie North and Fawn Hill? Or what about the current fiasco with Donald Trump and the Big Lie? Not to Mention January 6th?
JIMMY JOE: Well, Billy, I’d say the biggest surprise was that the job was going to be as hard as it turned out to be. Ya know, when I first took office back in ’76, 1976, not 1776, (Big Smile) I thought the presidency was going to be a snap, but I soon learned that it was going to be more of a Zbigniew Brezenski. Then things sort of went on the Fritz after I gave America the Lance-thank God for Vance- he was a real credit to the arms race. So, I’d have to say that my biggest surprise was that it was going to be so hard.
REV. BILLY: Have there been any other surprises?
JIMMY JOE: Well, yes. Another surprise was that there were so many bathrooms in the Whitehouse.
REV. BILLY: Bathrooms?
JIMMY JOE: Yes, Billy. There are some 46 of them, and all of them are inside too! I never did get around to using all of them, but I did commission a white paper…or was that toilet paper… No, it was a white paper, on how one could accomplish this task during one administration. I’ll be glad to get back to you later with the results of that study if you like.
REV. BILLY: No, that won’t be necessary. Tell me, Jimmy Joe, what do you think of the current situation in Ukraine with the Russian invasion and all in light of your own SALT II Treaty which you negotiated with the Ruskies?
JIMMY JOE: Yes…I’m proud of my record on SALT. The most significant part of that agreement was to trade Amarillo, Texas for Leningrad in the event of a first strike situation involving nuclear weapons.
REV BILLY: Would you gentlemen have seriously considered offering a Russian an Amarillo?
JIMMY JOE: Yes…We believed that using this small Texas town as a bargaining chip would be in the best interest of the country.
REV. BILLY: Do you hold out any hopes of stopping or at least curbing nuclear proliferation?
JIMMY JOE: Yes…What I plan to do is…
REV. BILLY (interrupting) Before you answer that question, let me break way for a message of vital importance…
(WINGES SERAPHS COMMERCIAL)
REV: BILLY: Hello friends. Rev. Billy Bob Weatherspoon here for the Space Chapel of Life…
Ya know…just how many times have ya wondered how many angels could dance on the top of a Bic Butane Lighter?
Have ya ever wondered where ya could find a Guardian Angel when ya really needed one?
And what about Charlies Angels?
…The answers to these and many more important questions may be found in my latest book—
WINGED SERAPHS I HAVE KNOWN
This book is available in both the hard and soft editions. Also, available is the leather-bound edition which comes suspended from a chain.
So ya don’t forget, send now to
SPACE CHAPEL OF LIFE
And now, back to the show…
Okay, Jimmy Joe, now we can continue the fascinating conversation about the wonderful world of weapons.
JIMMY JOE: Yes, as I was saying, I support the introduction of legislation by congress that would make it a federal crime to own a nuclear weapon if you are a convicted felon, drug addict, or legally insane. Also, we hope to register all nuclear weapons. In this way, we will know who has them and we will have additional control over who gets them.
In addition, I am proposing an outright ban on the most insidious nuclear device of them all, the Saturday Night Special. These small, concealable radiation-enhanced devices are capable of taking out small targets such as single-family dwellings with little or no blast damage to the surrounding area. These weapons are, however, a very “dirty weapon,” spreading deadly radiation for many square blocks killing all life forms within the size of oh, say, Fort Knox. These devices would make the riots of the 60s look like pep rallies. (Big smile.)
REV. BILLY: Well, Jimmy Joe, you certainly paint a grim picture. What are your feelings about the peaceful use of nuclear energy, say as an alternative energy source?
JIMMY JOE: Well, Billy…I feel that nuclear power will most likely be the energy source of the future, along with solar power and wind. Eventually, we will run out of coal. We are going to run out of oil, but according to leading experts, we won’t run out of matter for several thousand years…and being a nuclear physicist myself, I ain’t just whistling Dixie (Big Smile).
REV. BILLY: As a scientist, I wonder if you could comment on the recent UFO controversy.
Jimmy Joe: Yes, Billy, I have myself, seen a UFO…it was a close encounter of the weird kind.
Rev. Billy: You have??!! Well, Jimmy Joe…that’s truly an amazing statement. Would you care to elaborate?
JIMMY JOE: Sure. You see, I was on my farm back in Kentucky, plowing a field on a tractor when all of a sudden, a shadow fell over me and I looked up and there was this strange craft hovering overhead.
REV. BILLY: Wow! Was it big?
JIMMY JOE? Big? I’ll say!
REV. BILLY: Well, how big was it?
Jimmy Joe: It was big I tell ya! (Starts gesturing with his hands and arms) It was a hunnert foot, by a hunnert foot, by a hunnert foot, you know BIG!
REV. BILLY: (Interrupts for a commercial): Excuse me Jimmy Joe, but we need to fit in a break.
(YOU TOO CAN BECOME AN ORDAINED MINISTER COMMERCIAL)
Friends! You too can become an ordained minister! Through the special powers invested in me…you can become an ordained minister in the Space Chapel of Life – think of it friends – for only $6.95 you can save souls – perform miracles – perform marriages – perform funeral services – and perhaps the best advantage of all – tax-exempt status – That’s right folks, you heard it here tax-exempt status! – so ya don’t forget, send $6.95 today for your credentials to: Space Chapel of Life, Box 666, in care of this Television station – Thank you so much!
…and now, please continue on with this alleged story about beings from outer space.
JIMMY JOE: Well like I was saying, there I was out there on God’s little acre, plowing my fields and minding my own business when there appeared up in the sky a giant alien spacecraft. It was just hovering overhead, and it let out a slight humming noise, and all of a sudden it emitted a beam of light and the light fell over me and bathed my entire body and the next thing I knew I was being pulled off my tractor up into that beam of light and heading towards the spacecraft… that’s the last thing I remember until the next day when I was returned to earth and there I was, as naked a Jaybird in my ‘backer field, singin’ my fool head off!
REV. BILLY: Yes, well isn’t that special. Well, Jimmy Joe, we are just about out of time, here, and as you know, time is money. I would however like to ask you just one more two-part question. Number one, are you really a born-again Christian? And part two, have you ever really had lust in your heart?
JIMMY JOE: Well Billy, I don’t really feel that these two are mutually exclusive – In answer to your first question. Yes, I am a Born-again Christian; and in answer to your second question, yes, I have had lust in my heart…but it was lust for another Christian.
REV. BILLY: Well, there you have it, friends! Right from the former president’s own mouth. I’d like to thank President Starter for taking time out of his busy schedule to be with us tonight, and I’d like to invite all of you to tune in next week to another exciting episode of, MEET THE REVEREND! My next week’s guest will be that silly old buffoon and darling of the media, Attorney Michael Cohen! Watch him drop a dime on his former boss, Donald J. Trump! Until then, I wish all of you a pleasant good night, and may Glod bless.