My friend Fate nor I would never be the same

Clifton Williams

Clifton Williams

Age 13 in 1963

On September 15, 1963, Clifton Williams was playing outside his home, just three blocks from Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. When he felt the bomb blast, he and a friend ran toward the church, joining the crowd to witness what had happened.

In 1963 I was 13 years old and my family owned a grocery store (Ted’s Big Apple) and home approximately 3 blocks from the 16th Street Baptist Church (6th Ave). The morning the church was bombed I was outside playing in front of my family’s store on 15th Street and 8th Avenue. The blast shook the entire community of Fountain Heights and beyond. The blast and the ensuing emergency vehicles caused me to run the 2-3 blocks towards the sound of the blast. Along the way I stopped by my friend’s house (Fate Morris) and he and I ran to the 16th Street Baptist Church. We were near the front of the crowd that had gathered to witness what had occurred at the church. I saw the men attempting to bring the injured and dead out the blast site (one corpse was headless). Angry people began to throw rocks and bottles at the police. I ran back towards my home. It was a riot that day. I believe that it was the day Bull Connor (Commissioner of Public Safety) and his Troopers drove their armored vehicle down our street (15th Street) shooting tear gas at rioters. The Troopers were violent, beating anyone who ventured out onto the street that day…oh by the way, Fate Morris is the blood brother of Cynthia Morris-Wesley who was one of the girls killed that Sunday morning…Fate nor I would never be the same…

Clifton Williams submitted this original story to Kids in Birmingham 1963 in January 2023.