While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement

( 12 )

Overview

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 ...

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While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement

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Overview

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. Tyndale House Publishers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414336374
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 166,270
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.21 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Maull McKinstry is a survivor of the Civil Rights struggle and an eyewitness to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. As a teenager, she marched under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and bravely faced Bull Connor's German shepherds and stinging fire hoses during the battle for equal rights in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.

Now, nearly fifty years after the bombing, Carolyn is still an active member of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, serves as president of the Sixteenth Street Foundation, and works full time spreading her message of racial reconciliation.

A highly sought-after speaker, she has appeared on Oprah, 20/20,CNN,and MSNBC, and portions of her story have been featured in Life magazine and USA Today.She has made numerous television and documentary appearances, including Spike Lee's documentary Four Little Girls; Soledad O'Brien's Black in America; Brian Williams's Shades of Progress, Shadows of Hate; and Family Network's We Shall Not Be Moved.

Carolyn has addressed audiences in New Delhi, Mumbai, Barcelona, and the Italian Baptist Evangelical Union in Rome, as well as the Rosa Parks Museum, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and numerous colleges and universities.

She recently received her master of divinity from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, where she currently lives with her husband, Jerome.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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(9)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 4, 2012

    More important every year

    When I taught a course in the 1960s for college students, I made the Civil Rights Movement, including all of the events and documents included here, equal to about 1/3 of the course, in addition to Vietnam and the student/counter culture. Even 10-15 years ago, most of the material was news to students, and today the popularity of The Help, an extremely mild version of the racist culture of the south in that time, has been a huge jolt to not only the young, but older people who were only marginally aware even in the 60s of what the problems were like in the black community aside from the desire to vote and to end segregation in spite of white southern resistance to those things. This book is even more important than The Help; it describes the atmosphere of fear that surrounded southern black communities, and puts the main event, the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, in that context. It continues past that time to detail not only continuing racism and violence, but the terrible aftermath those things created for the participants. Carolyn Maull McKinstry speaks about her PTSD and her emotional problems for many years after she came within a few feet of death that September in 1963. Just as I did in class, she splices in with her narrative the actual speeches and news reports and photos of the day, to make it more immediate. Very highly recommended, and an easy read even for high school.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I AM THANKFUL!

    I was already familiar with the subject matter of this book prior to receiving it as a Christmas gift. I have maintained a healthy interest in the Civil Rights Movement. I once attended a service at the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. I previously conducted research on the bombing which occurred on September 15, 1963. Thus, I was eager to read this piece.
    I expected this work to be outstanding, and it was outstanding. The writing was simple. I thought this was an asset, because this story covers a part of history that should be exposed to young people at an early age. The storyline was out of sequence. Some have not liked this, but I thought it was an effective tool for keeping one's interest. The language was intimate. Even though, I have never met Mrs. McKinstry, I felt as though she was talking to me directly. The author skillfully intertwined her personal story with the history of Birmingham and the current events of the U S A during that era. Through all of this, she provided a unique perspective (that was new to me) on a most crucial event that occurred in our nation's recent past.
    This work gave a personal narrative on being a victim of the Jim Crow Laws. It gave a detailed insight on how it was to be teenaged footsoldier marching for justice in the South. It gave a first hand account of what an individual experienced while standing in the midst of a terrorist attack. Yet amazingly, this story told how one can be healed from the devastating effects of all of this. I sensed that writing this book was part of the healing process for the writer.
    I highly recommend this book. It is a classic of English Literature. It should be sold in every church bookstore. Mrs. McKinstry does forgive. However, I will never forget!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2011

    Great intro to racial injustice

    While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry is a great book to learn about racial injustice in the south through the story of a young girl who witnessed the bombing of her church and the deaths of 4 of her friends. This is a very readable history of this woman's life and how she was personally affected by the treatment of blacks in the south. I did not feel like the author wanted me to feel guilty for being white, but more like she wanted to get readers thinking about what we do now to love others around us (of any race!). I would recommend this book to anyone interested in stepping into the shoes of someone who lived these injustices; it is simply written and appropriate, I believe, for even younger readers to use as an introduction to the subject.

    Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2011

    While The World Watched

    It is difficult to imagine what it would have been like to grow up as an African American in the segregated South during the period of Jim Crow Laws. It is conceivable that something as simple as the color of a person's skin could cause such anger, hatred, violence, and unrest between people. These are the circumstances that Carolyn Maul McKinstry grew up in. In her new book, While The World Watched, McKinstry tells her personal story of growing up in what was known as the most segregated city in America, Birmingham, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950's and 60's. She writes from a personal perspective, sharing with the reader how every part of her life was affected by the horrors of segregation. The majority of the world has only the benefit of reading about the struggle of African Americans to secure the most basic rights for themselves. McKinstry lived it. Her book begins with her early childhood describing the security she felt within her family and church life. The pivotal point of the book, and arguably her life, was the bombing of her church, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham by the Ku Klux Klan. In this bombing, McKinstry lost four of her best friends, and the naivety that people treated each other fairly. This event was her wake-up call to the hard reality that whites did not value the lives of African Americans equally. While The World Watched is a history lesson for us all, as well as a personal memoir of someone who was part of that history. She provides excerpts of famous speeches from those on both sides of the Civil Rights Movement such as Martin Luther King Jr., Governor George Wallace, and President John F. Kennedy. A timeline of events that made up the Civil Rights Movement, vivid photographs, and a sample of the Jim Crow Laws provide the reader with a better perspective of the sin and struggles of segregation. I believe this book is a must read, as some of the feelings of Civil Rights Movement still exist today. This book will sadden you, encourage you, anger you, and challenge you in ways you don't expect. While The World Watched is very well written and definitely worth your time. I received a free copy of the book from Tyndale House in exchange for my honest review.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    Powerful book.

    All the ugly things of the world come together in this wonderfully written book.... fear, hate, death, loss. But the lovely things are in it too.... hope, love, forgiveness. Carolyn's story is powerful. Growing up in Alabama her family does their best to shield her from what the klan is doing in their community. She tells us of a bombing and her life afterwards, how she struggles with grief, disappointment, and trying to understand. I highly recommend this book.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2011

    Hard to put this one down!

    While the World Watched tells the story of the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama that acted as a spark to ignite the Civil Rights movement. It is a gripping story of one of the teenage survivors of the bombing who lost four of her friends. Through the book she traces her journey as a black woman of the South in from the 1960s to the the present day. The overall theme of the book is the power of love and forgiveness over hate and death. It's one of those rare books I had a hard time putting down (even when I was having trouble staying away because of the late hour at which I often read it!)

    One of my favorite parts of the entire book was that throughout the chapters were excerpts of speeches by civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and even President Kennedy. At the end of the book was a brief appendix with actual Jim Crow Laws listed. I'll say that much of what was in the book was new to me. Over my years in education I often commented to my history teachers and professors that we don't teach recent history in school - I was always lucky to get to WWII, yet alone anything post-WWII in school. So while I obviously know of the Civil Rights movement and am familiar with many of the figures of it, this was the first time I read in detail anything about it. For a white man who grew up in the North it gave me a much better appreciation for the struggle faced by black Americans over the last half-century.

    I would give the book five out of five stars, but there were times I struggled with following the storyline because it didn't always tell it chronologically - and so at times I had to go back and re-read a few pages because I got confused when the timeline switched. That minor frustration, though, (and it was minor) is my only complaint. I'll give it a solid 4.5/5 stars.

    I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2011

    Wonderfully written, great read!

    I received this book to read from the Tyndale Blog Reviewer Network. I was not required to give this book a positive review, these are my true opinions.

    This wonderfully written book leads you through Carolyn Maull McKinstry's life as she comes to terms with the loss and her hatred and comes to forgiveness through the Lord. Her road was not smooth or quick, but it led her to where she was meant to be. I received this book to review while I was going through a Sunday School class on forgiveness and how when we forgive others as God forgave us, we are in his grace. I really loved this book, I had a difficult time putting it down. I would recommend this to anyone whether or not they have an interest in the history of our Civil Rights Movement.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    While the World Watched by Carolyn McKinstry,(with) Denise George

    I thought this book was an excellent book of a woman's eyewitness view of the Birmingham Bombing during the Civil Rights movement when she was a teenager and how she witnessed the deaths of her best friends.
    Carolyn has tried to forget that awful day five decades ago on Sunday, September 15th, 1963.The human injustices and the assassinations of those who spoke out for a change.
    I really loved how she put this book together and all of Martin Luther King Jr's speaches she included, she also included in the front of the book a wonderful timeline of the events that happened during the movement. As I read this book I felt as if I was there going through the experience with her.I would recomend this book for all to read !!
    ** I recieved this book for free from Tyndale for being a book blogger**

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent Book

    While the World Watched, is a story about a survivor, Carolyn McKinstry, of the Birmingham bombing. History books do not do justice for what happened doing the civil right movement but a book like this penetrates a person deep so they will not forget. I truly believe that history could or would be repeated if a person does not become astute about it. Having grown up in Texas and moved to Alabama a few years ago I was not fully aware of the tragedy that happened in Birmingham and other areas (cities and states). This book opened my eyes to apart of America history that is really unpleasant. By no means should this history be hidden but people with courage like Carolyn McKinstry these stories and history will never be forgotten.

    The first-hand account of Carolyn McKinstry gives the read a glance of life during the civil rights movement. It shows how parents tried to protect their families, how children tried to live a "normal" life and how awful people can be to other people. Another aspect of the book I liked was the incorporation of speeches, Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr, during that time of frame. I would recommend this book to everyone.

    Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    Forgiveness is the Path to Freedom

    Riveting. That's the first word I can think of to describe this book. It was extremely well written.

    Mrs. McKinstry was a young teenager attending Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights movement. She was at church the day of the bombing. The girls who died were her friends. Mrs. McKinstry's life was changed that day, as were the lives of all those who were at the church that morning.

    After the tragedy and then the travesty of justice that transpired thereafter, Mrs. McKinstry tried to go on with her life. She had trouble sleeping. She became withdrawn. She was no longer as interested in her studies. Mrs. McKinstry explains the way she met her husband and his gentleness and patience with her. She weaves a story of the sorrows of her life and the grace provided by the loves in her life.

    Suddenly one day she realized something her grandfather had said years before. That realization gave her strength to call on God and believe for change in her own life. Through a long process, she began to forgive. Now she works to bring about forgiveness all over the US.

    I found the entire book to be compelling.

    I received this book free from Tyndale Press in exchange for a truthful review of the book. Thank you, Tyndale, for allowing me to read this book. It was a compelling read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Wonderfully Written Beautiful story

    While the World Watched gives the unique viewpoints of not just a child but a first hand account of the bombing, a personal account of how these events effected her whole life. I enjoyed this book a lot. I had a little bit of a hard time following sometimes because there was a lot of date jumping in spots but it definitely did not take away from the story. This book was about non violence, peace, love, and ultimately forgiveness. Also in this book were speeches and quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,whom Carolyn got to hear and speak to first hand, speeches and quotes also from John and Bobby Kennedy. This book is a must read for the young and old about a time in our history that is very important to know about. I highly recommend this book.
    I received this book free from Tyndale publishing for my honest review of it

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2014

    ¿While the World Watched¿ is a moving account of one woman¿s exp

    “While the World Watched” is a moving account of one woman’s experience during the Civil Rights Movement. As a resident of Birmingham, AL, she was a member of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and was friends with the four girls who were tragically killed there when the church was bombed by the KKK. As she describes what life was like for her as a young black girl during this tumultuous time, she really drew me in. While it’s definitely an account of historical events. Mrs. McKinstry tells her story as a … story. It’s interesting, poignant, and kept me anxiously listening for the next chapter.

    While some have mentioned they didn’t like the lengthy quotes from various speeches and writings, I felt that it gave broader context to what her personal experiences were.

    I also appreciated her focus on how her relationship with the Lord grew (and has continued to grow) in the 50 years since the bombing. While she could have easily become bitter and hardened due to her circumstances, she has allowed the Lord to change her from the inside out. I appreciated her message of love and forgiveness—probably moreso because of her circumstances.

    The main takeaway from reading (or listening to) While the World Watched was personal. After spending most of my life in the deep south, I’ve always been aware of the horrible things that happened here. However, after hearing a more detailed account of that time, I realized that this is still something that we don’t talk much about—in schools, at home, or even in the community. I’m ashamed to say that this is the most thorough history lesson I’ve ever received on the Civil Rights Movement. It’s not just embarrassing. It’s downright shameful. Thank you, Mrs. McKinstry, for the courage you displayed when sharing your story. I have been enlightened and changed because of it.

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  • Posted August 11, 2014

    I read this book soon after taking a college class on civil righ

    I read this book soon after taking a college class on civil rights in the history of American education.  This memoir perfectly complemented what I researched in the class and gave me a very poignant, inspiring look at civil rights issues.  The author has a good storyteller's voice and her story was both moving and interesting. I liked the inclusions in the book of the MLK speeches, photos, and Jim Crow Laws.  They brought more understanding to a time period I didn't experience.  If you're interested in the civil rights movement or history in general, I also suggest you see the movie "The Help" and read Jennifer Valent's "Fireflies in December". 

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  • Posted August 5, 2014

    Survivor! While the World Watched tells the story of Carolyn Ma

    Survivor!

    While the World Watched tells the story of Carolyn Maull McKinstry's life growing up in Birmingham, AL.  She was in the 16th street Baptist Church when a bomb went off in Sept. 1963 and had just been in the area of the Church where the bomb exploded.  She was not physically injured but suffered emotional trauma when four of her friends where killed.  The book tells the story of her life leading up to the bombings and after during the Civil Rights struggles in the country and the hardships and unspeakable hate that her family and friends suffered.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 29, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Everyone needs to read this book. EVERYONE. I'm serious. It m

    Everyone needs to read this book. EVERYONE. I'm serious. It might be one of the most important books you'll ever read. And with history being revised at every turn, we need these eyewitness accounts preserved.


    Don't get me wrong: it's a hard book to read. "While the World Watched" gets real, and it gets gritty. Carolyn adds direct quotes from correspondence by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She also quotes Governer George Wallace (he's learned his lessons by now!), and others who were deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement.


    But most chilling is the opening, describing the bombing that (should have) rocked the world. Carolyn ends with events demonstrating how far we've come and how far we have to go.


    Now, here's the controversial part...I'm not saying you need to read "While the World Watched" to understand race relations in America, but you do. I'm not saying you need to read Carolyn's memoir to fully grasp what black Americans have endured in our country in the name of segregation, but they do.


    I'm encouraging you to read this book for this reason: I am SICK and TIRED of hearing the fight for homosexual/lesbian rights/marriage compared to the Civil Rights Movement. What happens to the LBGT community is NOTHING compared to what blacks endured, and still endure. To me, and I know as a white woman I have no right to say this...


    ...every time I hear the comparison it's like a slap in the face to people like Carolyn, Rosa Parks, Dr. King Jr., Emmitt Till and so many, many others. Yes, the LBGT community has faced discrimination. Yes, some have died. And yes, they are not treated "equally"...but that is NOTHING compared to what you'll read in this book.


    Sorry if that makes you angry, but it's true. And as I wipe my tears and say thank you to my friends at Tyndale House Publishers for my advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Please, go out and get this book and read it! Highly recommended, and wish it was required in all school curriculums.

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  • Posted July 21, 2014

    While the World Watched is an amazing read. It amazes me how cru

    While the World Watched is an amazing read. It amazes me how cruel the world can be. I cannot grasp the cruelty Carolyn and others like her endured in her lifetime. I was born in the south a decade after the civil rights movement. I did not see how those Jim Crow Laws affected people. Or see those senseless signs saying Colored or Whites Only. The civil rights era was such a violent time. I have heard stories or seen documentaries about it. Carolyn's story puts everything into a new perspective. How could a free country treat free people that way? 
    I did enjoy this book. So inspiring to learn the power of forgiveness. Carolyn is an inspiring person of her race - the human race. The book includes Martin Luther King's speeches, list of the senseless Jim Crow Laws, and various letters from people of the era to the present time. 
    I recommend this book to those who wants to learn more of the civil rights movement from an inspiring woman who lived through it. It is one of those books that makes the reader think about it long after it is been read. 
    5 stars.

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  • Posted July 16, 2014

    On September 15, 1963 the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Bir

    On September 15, 1963 the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed and 4 young girls lost their lives. One of their closest friends had just left the bathroom as she had church duties – and thus her life was spared. This is the true story of that girl, Carolyn Maull.
    As someone born after this bombing I had no idea how bad it was in the Deep South for someone born with dark skin. Wow! I had heard stories but this is from the viewpoint of one who lived through extreme segregation long before the bombings occurred. As a young child she sat with her dying grandmother in the basement of the hospital – with appalling conditions and little medical care because “coloreds” weren’t allowed upstairs. As a young girl she sometimes resented always being escorted, even across the street, by brothers – only to learn many years later it was because little black girls by themselves were sometimes viciously raped by white boys. So many of the rules her father imposed on her were for her safety in such a hostile environment. (He learned a lot as a waiter in an all-white country club). Honestly, to me, it seems like such a strange and alien world so I’m glad Mrs. McKinstry has told her story and that she is free to go where she wants and order what she wants. The only thing that marred this book, in my mind, was the endorsement by President Obama in the back as I do not respect many of the decisions he has made as president. However, I did like the book and the inclusion of the partial list of the Jim Crow laws as I had no idea they were so nitpicky and all encompassing.

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  • Posted July 15, 2014

    3.5 stars Her story is of hurt, trying to cope, and forgiveness

    3.5 stars

    Her story is of hurt, trying to cope, and forgiveness in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. While she presents her perspective on things growing up during this time, the tone of the book is not judgmental, just simply informative. Unfortunately, the story she presents doesn't always follow a chronological timeline. Sometimes this is of no consequence or adds to the story, but many times I thought we were further along the timeline and then she'd reference something as about to happen that I thought had already past... which definitely made parts of the book confusing. While the book deals with heavy material it isn't a difficult book to read - I read it spread throughout one day. While the World Watched is another piece in the broader story and worth the read, even if your perspective sometimes differs from hers.

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  • Posted July 15, 2014

    Fourteen-year-old Carolyn Maull was at the 16th Street Baptist C

    Fourteen-year-old Carolyn Maull was at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama when a Klan-planted bomb went off killing four of her friends. This was a sad day in American history. We read about Jim Crow who is behind the law that wants to keep segregation going but that doesn't stop people from fighting for their rights. We read about Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy and other freedom fighters. 




    I want to thank Tyndale House for putting this book on their Summer Reading List because I have had this ebook on my kindle for sometime but if it wasn't for them I may have never read it. Thank you!




    To me this book is better then anything I was ever taught in school. I was born in 1973 so I really never understood what African Americans went through just to be truly free until I read this book. I remember my mom would tell me about the signs, which she hated, and she taught me at a very young age to not look at a person color but at their heart. This book at me in tears so many times. I would give it 10 stars if I could because of the power behind it and I think Carolyn Maull McKinstry is a true hero for her fight and for telling her story.

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  • Posted July 2, 2014

    This is an extremely interesting book about the horrifying bombi

    This is an extremely interesting book about the horrifying bombing of a black Baptist church rest room that would kill four young black girls on Sunday, September 15, 1963, and wake Americans to the realization that black people were only nominally free in southern states in America. It is told by Carolyn Maull McKinstry whose four closest friends were killed in the church ladies’ room while she waited for them outside the church. Somehow the killing of those four young black girls in their black church on a Sunday morning seems the worse evil imaginable. As President John Kennedy said, it should be possible for Americans of any color to go to schools without armed guards, to eat in any restaurants without fear, and to register to vote without fear of reprisal. This book describes the difficulties of being black in America after the Civil War supposedly had freed them.

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