Birmingham, Alabama: The Most Racist City in America
"We found a way to live normally in highly abnormal circumstances," wrote Condoleezza Rice in her autobiography entitled Extraordinary, Ordinary People. "But there was no denying that Birmingham eclipsed every other big American city in the ugliness of its racism. Birmingham would shortly become [in 1963] 'Bombingham'."
As a result of his having been an "associate" of Barack Obama, we have heard a relatively lot about William Ayers, who, as a member of the Weather Underground, orchestrated a series of bombings of public places in the early 1970's. Pointedly, in almost every case, the Weather Underground publicly identified the places that were to be bombed in order that human life would not be in danger.
The same cannot be said of the bombings that took place regularly in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960's. Why don't we know very much about the people who committed these bombings, which were much more devastating than anything that Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground ever committed. If the Weathermen were--rightly--called terrorists, then why weren't those men also called terrorists who committed far more mayhem in Birmingham called terrorists?
Because they were white, and the victims of terror were black, and the white man got to write the official version of history.
Condoleezza Rice, in her book Extraordinary, Ordinary People writes that
...if you were black in Birmingham in 1963, there was no escaping the violence and no place to hide. What I remember most from this time is the sound of bombs going off in neighborhoods, including our own. The white "night riders" and the KKK cared little about the role you played in the [civil rights] struggle; they were content to terrify any black family they could.
To make things even more poignantly worse, Ms. Rice explains that among the Birmingham terrorists were actually those who had been entrusted to keep the peace--the Birmingham police. Rice explains one such terror event, wherein she and her parents had just returned from an outing one evening when a bomb blast occurred nearby.
...it had been a gas bomb, hurled into the window of a house about a block or so away. My father hurried my mother and me back into the car and started to drive off. Mother asked where he was going. "To the police," he said. "Are you crazy?" she asked. "They probably set the thing off in the first place." Daddy didn't say anything, but drove to [a friend's] house in Hooper City instead.
Rice describes the enhanced terror tactics that were used in this and other episodes
Several hours later we returned home and learned that a second bomb had gone off. As terrorists still do today, bombers exploded the first device in hopes that a crowd would gather. They detonated the second bomb--filled with shrapnel and nails--in order to injure as many innocent onlookers as possible.
The struggle for civil rights in many cases was not just about who got to go to which schools. In many cases, it was a matter of life and death. Nowhere was this more evident than in civil-rights-era Birmingham, Alabama.