Like most others, I have profoundly moved, saddened, angered by the senseless murder of nine people in a Church by the young thug, who espoused racist views and felt this action might somehow lead to a "new civil war."

I have thought a lot lately about the horrific bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963, when four little girls lost their lives and others were injured.  The parallel between that attack on a Church and this one, purposely taking the lives of the most faithful, makes this more horrific.


  
But if there is ANY silver lining in this, I am thinking it may be that this action will profoundly backfire.  It seems that so many people are repulsed by this action -- people of all races and colors, religious faiths, from Charleston and all over the world. Rather than the perverted idea that this might lead to further division in the country, what the murderer can know is that this has instead brought people of all races together.



In 1963, the Birmingham bombing happened on the heels of a major civil rights effort in what was one of the worst examples of the Jim Crow South. The Rev. Martin Luther King and others led a very difficult campaign there that eventually turned much opinion in the whole country when the racism and hatred turned against children, with fire hoses.  But when members of the local KKK organized the bombing of the Church, history reports that this was a major turning point in the civil rights movement. Whites and others who had to that point been reluctant to support the civil rights movement -- perhaps were troubled by the injustice being fought in some ways, but not in favor of organized, peaceful protests to lead to change -- changed their minds after the lives of four young, innocent girls were taken in the most horrific way.  Some feel the Birmingham movement, and the response to the bombing, may have contributed to the support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This past week, one of the most profound things that happened to me was when I posted something earlier on social media, then remarkably I heard from a great lady, Sarah Collins Rudolph, who I then learned was described as the "fifth victim" of the Birmingham bombing.  She was the younger sister of Addie May Collins, who lost her life in the bombing.  But I learned that Ms. Rudloph also suffered greatly, losing her eye (from shrapnel) and spent many weeks in the hospital after the Birmingham bombing.  Certainly this event changed her life forever, and she has suffered in ways none of us can truly understand.  She also told me that when she heard about the murders in the Charleston Church, she had "flashbacks" to that horrific day in 1963.

One would hope that we would be past all this 50 years later.  But the last year has brought up much racial discontent, from Ferguson to Cleveland to Staten Island back to Baltimore to Charleston (twice, first with the murder of Walter Scott, then the murder of nine churchgoers this week). The nation has struggled with these cases in some ways, and there have been divisions over the issues raised.  

But it seems there are no divisions over the slaughter of 9 people in an historic Church, when these 9 people in fact invited this young person to join them in Bible study, only to be repaid an hour later when he turned on them, killing most of them while apparently spouting racial epithets.



We all pray for the souls of the incredible people who lost their lives, but perhaps if the outrage over this brings about a new racial harmony, and a real commitment to change, then this indeed would be the ultimate revenge on the terrorist who took their lives.