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This book tells the story of one grim Sunday in September 1963 when an intentionally planted cache of dynamite ripped through the walls of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and ended the dreams and the lives of four young black girls. Their deaths spurred the Kennedy administration to send an army of FBI agents to Alabama and led directly to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. When the Justice Department was unable to bring anyone to trial for this heinous crime, a young Alabama attorney general named Bill Baxley began his own investigation to find the perpetrators. In 1977, 14 years after the bombing, Baxley brought one Klansman to trial and, in a courtroom only blocks from the bombed church (now a memorial to the victims), persuaded a jury to return a guilty verdict. More than 20 years later two other perpetrators were tried for the bombing, found guilty, and remanded to prison.

Frank Sikora has used the court records, FBI reports, oral interviews, and newspaper accounts to weave a story of spellbinding proportions. A reporter by profession, Sikora tells this story compellingly, explaining why the civil rights movement had to be successful and how Birmingham had to change.
 

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