Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights

Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights

by Doug Jones


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The story of the decades-long fight to bring justice to the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, culminating in Sen. Doug Jones' prosecution of the last living bombers.

On September 15, 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed. The blast killed four young girls and injured twenty-two others. The FBI suspected four particularly radical Ku Klux Klan members. Yet due to reluctant witnesses, a lack of physical evidence, and pervasive racial prejudice the case was closed without any indictments.

But as Martin Luther King, Jr. famously expressed it, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Years later, Alabama Attorney General William Baxley reopened the case, ultimately convicting one of the bombers in 1977. Another suspect passed away in 1994, and US Attorney Doug Jones tried and convicted the final two in 2001 and 2002, representing the correction of an outrageous miscarriage of justice nearly forty years in the making. Jones himself went on to win election as Alabama’s first Democratic Senator since 1992 in a dramatic race against Republican challenger Roy Moore.

Bending Toward Justice is a dramatic and compulsively readable account of a key moment in our long national struggle for equality, related by an author who played a major role in these events. A distinguished work of legal and personal history, the book is destined to take its place as a canonical civil rights history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250201447
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/05/2019
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 208,304
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Doug Jones is a US Senator who has made finding common ground a hallmark of his tenure. In 2017, he became the first Democrat to win a Senate election in Alabama since 1992. As U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama from 1997 to 2001, Jones prosecuted two former Ku Klux Klan members for their roles in the racially-motivated 1963 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing that took the lives of four girls. He also secured an indictment against Centennial Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph.

Table of Contents

Foreword Rick Bragg ix

Author's Note xv

Part 1

Introduction: The Arc of History 3

1 The Bombing 16

2 Baxley 39

3 Langford 69

Part 2

4 The Job 95

5 Rudolph 111

6 Grand Juries 121

7 Sucker Punched 146

8 Blanton 175

9 Politics and Dementia 216

Part 3

10 Cherry 229

11 Epiphanies 282

12 Honoring the Children 292

13 One More Chance 302

14 Connecting the Dots 314

Acknowledgments 352

Index 355

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