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The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church remains a metaphor for the tragic sacrifice and principled persistence that marked the entire civil rights movement. That preceding May, children left the middle-class church and marched onto the streets of Birmingham, eliciting a wave of violent police retaliation that shamed the Magic City into desegregating many of its public and private facilities. Just four months later, the martyrdom of four young girls in that same but broken building shamed a lethargic Congress into a renewed focus on legislation that would, over time, desegregate the rest of the nation.
It took 40 years, but three of the individuals responsible for the bombing went to prison for the crime. It required intense media pressure and dogged Alabama prosecutors to pry incriminating records from a reluctant FBI, but the system ultimately worked.
But records suggest that a full accounting of the crime is still needed, and that some living individuals may still be worthy of additional investigation. In that sense the BAPBOMB case, as it was called by the FBI, is symbolic of something else: the ongoing failure to bring resolution to dozens of civil rights cold cases, despite a well-intentioned, ongoing effort by the Justice Department. That a case that many observers consider closed may still yield new revelations fifty years after the fact is disturbing for another reason. For the record now makes it clear that the failure to bring closure for the victims' families in the BAPBOMB case may well be the result of still-ongoing obstruction on the part of the FBI. New information in this essay reveals:
*A suspicious meeting by 6 radical racists shortly before the bombing and their nefarious plot to turn the bombing into something much more serious. These men were religious zealots with a warped understanding of Christianity.
*The ties between these radicals and one of the most violent, racist groups in the nation, the National States Rights Party (NSRP), headquartered in Birmingham and led by a man, J.B. Stoner, some still think masterminded the attack.
*The ties between the NSRP and "upper crust" segegrationist groups in Alabama who hid their true agenda behind the banner of anti-communism.
*The ties between those "upper crust" racists and the working class KKK outcasts who were convicted for the actual bombing.
*New -- and still living-- individuals who could still be investigated for their role in helping the Klan perform the actual bombing.
*The role that FBI obstruction has played in hiding all of this... including wiretaps that may hold the key to the case.
*How the nexus between these three groups-- rebels, redbaiters and religious radicals-- may explain other, major acts of racial terrorism from 1963 to the present.