In a piece at the Huffington Post, Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes that the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four little girls 50 years ago in Birmingham, Ala., was just another example on a long list of “racist terror attacks that included beatings, shootings, mob attacks, ambushes and, of course, bombings.” It should never be forgotten.
The Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls fifty years ago was no isolated racial horror. At the time, the Sixteenth Street Baptist church bombing was just another in the decade long train of racist terror attacks that included beatings, shootings, mob attacks, ambushes, and, of course, bombings. Dozens were killed in the attacks. The victims had two things in common. They were either targeted for their civil rights work, or targeted solely out of racial hate and revenge. The other was that in nearly every case their killers were never prosecuted, and in more cases than not, were not even arrested though their identities were often well-known. In several cases, they were known because the FBI had fingered them.
The Birmingham bombing was a near textbook example of how officials turned a blind eye toward murder. The man who actually planted the bomb, Robert Chambliss, was quickly identified. He was arrested but not on murder charges, but simply illegal possession of dynamite. He got a paltry fine and a hand slap six-month sentence. His other three accomplices, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry were also soon identified. They were not arrested. It would take nearly two decades before Chambliss was finally tried and convicted and got a life sentence for the bombing and more than two decades after before Blanton and Cherry (Cash had died) were convicted and got life sentences.
This closed the legal book on this horror. In a few other cases federal prosecutors and D.A.’s in the South were determined to nail the perpetrators of old racial crimes. They scored some notable victories. State prosecutors in Mississippi convicted Byron De La Beckwith in 1994 for the 1963 murder of civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, and former Klan Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers in 1998 for the 1965-firebomb murder of Mississippi NAACP official Vernon Dahmer, and conviction of three Klansmen in the 1964 Birmingham church bombing. For years the murdered men’s relatives pressed prosecutors to bring charges against the killers.
Read Earl Ofari Hutchinson‘s entire piece at the Huffington Post.
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