On September 15, 1963, a Klan-planted bomb went off in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Fourteen-year-old Carolyn Maull was just a few feet away when the bomb exploded, killing four of her friends in the girl’s restroom she had just exited. It was one of the seminal moments in the Civil Rights movement, a sad day in American history . . . and the turning point in a young girl’s life.
While the World Watched is a poignant and gripping eyewitness account of life in the Jim Crow South: from the bombings, riots, and assassinations to the historic marches and triumphs that characterized the Civil Rights movement.
A uniquely moving exploration of how racial relations have evolved over the past 5 decades, While the World Watched is an incredible testament to how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.
The nation's collective memory of the civil rights movement depends largely on journalists and biographers who witnessed the snarling dogs and brutal racist tactics used to enforce and defend segregation in the South. In a more personal account, McKinstry, a survivor of the Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., offers the rare perspective of both a child and an eyewitness to some of the most jarring aspects of blacks' fight for civil rights. Her tale of surviving the bombing, which killed four of her friends on September 15, 1963, vividly describes the force of water from fire hoses that left a hole in her sweater; the ominous call moments before the bomb exploded; and the clouds that formed in her mental sky when she realized that the childhood innocence her parents had relied on to shield her from racism was gone. The text of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and short summaries of Jim Crow laws are an educational addition to the narrative, but in boxes alongside the main narrative, they are also a visual distraction from the main text. Depending on the reader's knowledge of the racial disparities McKinstry grew up enduring, the additions will read as repetitive or informative.
I am a student learning about the injustices faced to African Americans during the civil rights era, but the first-hand account by Mrs Maull-Mckinstry helped me understand it in a deeper way than what any textbook could have said. Thank you for having the courage to relive the horrible moments of your adolescence and adulthood for the next generation to understand the problems and know how to prevent it from happening again.
Thank you for giving us this knowledge of the bombing and your life. Thank you for telling us that we can get over anything with the love of God. This book is an amazing story of struggle and strife.
I never knew it was that bad
I was 8 years old at the time of the bombing and knew nothing of the events at the time. I lived in a small city outside Birmingham and my parents did not talk of these events in front of our children. I knew that we did not associate with African Americans and nothing more. This book was a real eye opener for me.