I was 7, maybe 8, when I begged my father to take me to see a movie called The Shaggy Dog and had to enter the downtown Melba Theater through an alley stairway that led to the balcony where black folks had to sit. The place was filthy. I was embarrassed and sorry I had talked my dad into taking me. It was the last time I ever asked such a favor.
Our social life revolved around the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. There was something going on there seven days a week; potluck dinners, plays, music, activities for the kids. One Emancipation Day, Jackie Robinson, the first black player welcomed into the major leagues, came to speak to the congregation. It was a wonderful place where everyone felt at home, safe.
That changed on Sunday, September 15, 1963, when an exploding package of dynamite, put in place the night before by Ku Klux Klan members, killed four girls in the church basement. (more…)