Hundreds filled Sams Auditorium in Fayetteville Monday for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday commemoration. The event included remarks by Carolyn Maull McKinstry, who was an eyewitness and survivor of the 1963 bombings in Birmingham, Ala.
A native of Birmingham, McKinstry as a teenager was present at the 16th Street Baptist Church on Sept. 15, 1963 when the church was bombed and four girls ages 11-14 were killed after a box of dynamite planted in the church exploded.
At right, above, Carolyn Maull McKinstry was the guest speaker at the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebration held Monday at Sams Auditorium in Fayetteville. McKinstry as a teenager survived two bombings at her church and home in Birmingham in 1963.
It was not until 1977 that Robert Chambliss, reportedly a member of United Klans of America, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
McKinstry survived a second bomb explosion that destroyed a large portion of her home in 1964.
McKinstry was also one of several thousand students hosed by firefighters during the civil rights marches in Birmingham in 1963.
Addressing some of the events of 1963, McKinstry noted the bombings in Birmingham, the assassination of President Kennedy, the swearing in of Gov. George Wallace and in June his blocking the entrance to Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama.
“Where do we go from here?” McKinstry asked, echoing the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963, adding that King at that time also saw his dream turning into a nightmare. “(King’s) words are frighteningly familiar today.”
“Where do we go from here? We need to eradicate the three evils of poverty, racism and war. The solution was within our reach, Dr. King said. So where do we go from here? We practice love, we practice forgiveness and we develop an ethos of compassion and charity,” McKinstry said.
Published in 2011, McKinstry’s memoir of her eyewitness account in Birmingham is entitled “While the World Watched.”
McKinstry received a master of divinity degree from Samford University and is currently an associate minister at Trinity Baptist Church in Birmingham.
The theme of the 2014 event was “Advancing the call for civility and civil rights.”
Included in the program were awards presented to winners of middle school and high school essays, elementary and middle school attendance, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Achievement Awards, Athletic Excellence High School Awards and entries in the annual parade held just before the event.
Below, adults and kids from Holly Grove A.M.E. Church joined a mass of other entries Monday for the 2014 edition of the parade in Fayetteville. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Below, state Rep. Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone) led the way Monday morning for the annual parade in Fayetteville celebrating King’s birthday. Photo/Ben Nelms.