America’s accomplishments on the road to equality should not make us complacent, says Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Just a few weeks after the historic March on Washington, which was led by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, saw nearly 200,000 people descend on the US capital to demand racial justice, the retaliation came. One of Birmingham, Alabama’s oldest black churches—the 16th Street Baptist Church—which served as a meeting point for civil rights activists, was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in an act of racially-motivated terrorism.
It was youth day, right after Sunday school, and the four victims who lost their lives were schoolgirls, the youngest only 11 years old. As the third bombing in racially-segregated Birmingham following the announcement of integration of Alabama’s school system in just over a week, the attack provoked outrage that erupted into mass protests, marking a pivotal point for the Civil Rights Movement sweeping the country.
Though four suspects emerged in 1965, no charges were filed for lack of evidence. The case was reopened in 1976, but it wasn’t until 2002 that the final suspect was given four life sentences for his role in the bombing. In 2006, the 16th Street Baptist Church was declared a historic landmark.
Speaking at the church in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16, 2017, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch—the country’s first black woman to hold the post—reminded the audience that when she was born, just a few years before the attack, it was unimaginable that a black woman could even sit on a jury.
Her message for America of today, drawing on the legacy of MLK, is that adversity is not a cause for despair, but a call to action.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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