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ADD: Birmingham Sunday (Richard Farina)-Sept 1963


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catspaw49 23 May 02 - 11:10 AM
DMcG 23 May 02 - 11:16 AM
Amergin 23 May 02 - 11:17 AM
Giac 23 May 02 - 11:20 AM
chip a 23 May 02 - 11:47 AM
Whistle Stop 23 May 02 - 01:55 PM
Mrrzy 23 May 02 - 03:31 PM
Wesley S 23 May 02 - 04:18 PM
GUEST,sed (can't remember my password and email fo 23 May 02 - 04:29 PM
chip a 23 May 02 - 04:45 PM
Wesley S 23 May 02 - 04:47 PM
Big Mick 24 May 02 - 12:09 AM
catspaw49 24 May 02 - 01:43 PM
Mrrzy 24 May 02 - 02:08 PM
sed 04 Jul 02 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Philippa 15 Sep 04 - 07:10 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: BIRMINGHAM SUNDAY (Richard Farina)
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 May 02 - 11:10 AM

In 1964 Richard Farina wrote Birmingham Sunday about the church bombing in Birmingham that killed 4 little girls and changed the progress of the Civil Rights Movement. The four children killed when the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, was bombed on September 15, 1963 were Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley. After nearly 40 years, justice has been done......finally.

Birmingham, Ala. -- When the crime was committed, when four girls lay blasted to death in the shattered basement of the 16th Street Baptist Church, Bobby Frank Cherry was young and strong and confident that his world, one of white robes and closed minds, would turn forever.

On Wednesday afternoon, more than 38 years after his bomb shook the church in the most shameful act of the civil rights era, he stood old, angry and puzzled as a mostly white jury sent him to prison for the rest of his life for the thing he had once laughed about in the company of like-minded men.

"I know one thing," said Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was 12 years old when the explosion pierced her right eye with projectiles of glass and killed her sister, Addie Mae Collins. "It was a long time."

A Jefferson County jury of nine whites and three blacks found the 71- year-old former Klansman guilty of the murders of Addie Mae, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, bringing to justice the last living suspect in the Sept. 15, 1963, bombing, and closing the door on a crime that has haunted Birmingham for four decades.

As the jury's forewoman, a middle-aged white woman, read the verdict, ticking off the word "guilty" four times for each one of the victims, Cherry stood motionless, a tiny U.S. flag stuck in his lapel.

This was a historic crime, but one that did exactly the opposite of what the bombers hoped it would do. Instead of forcing black leaders, through terror, to beg for segregation, it shamed and sickened white citizens.

"This tragic event may cause the white South to come to terms with its conscience," the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. predicted at the girls' funeral.

The South did change, but the killers of the girls hid for decades inside a brittle silence that cracked only when they boasted of their involvement in a moment of indiscretion with kin and people they believed held the same hatred. It was largely that boasting, recounted by the prosecution's witnesses, that convicted them all.

Judge James Garrett had warned the audience in the courtroom, a cold, modern, prefabricated building barely big enough to hold the crowd, that he would lock up anyone who exhibited "an emotional outcry." But as the forewoman read the verdicts, not by each victim's name but by a sterile case number, some black members of the audience began to cry and quietly mouth words of faith.

"Praise God, praise God," said one woman, in the sixth pew. "Thank you, Jesus."

Just one row behind her, Cherry's 20-year-old grandson, Glenn Belcher, cried with his hands around his head. Myrtle Cherry, Cherry's wife, held him with one arm across his shoulders.

Each guilty verdict carries an automatic life sentence, under the state law in place at the time of the bombing. The murder convictions carry an automatic appeal.

"Thank God, today you can say Birmingham is rising out of the dust," said the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who was beaten by Cherry with brass knuckles when he tried to enroll his own children in an all-white Birmingham school in 1957.

Cherry's conviction, after deliberations of more than six hours, brings to a close an often-flawed and often-abandoned investigation into the bombing that -- despite gaps of decades in its progress -- has finally brought to justice all the men linked to the bombing who did not die before cases could be made.

Robert Chambliss, nicknamed "Dynamite Bob" because he was linked to so many of the more than 40 blasts that terrorized black citizens in the South during the civil rights era, was convicted in 1977 and died in prison. Herman Frank Cash, whose family ran a barbecue restaurant that became a hangout for Klansmen, died untried. Thomas Blanton Jr., who once laughed with Cherry about the bombing on an FBI surveillance tape, was convicted last year and also has been sentenced to life in prison.

None of them ever broke under FBI pressure to name the others, and none of them ever confessed.

As bailiffs took out their handcuffs to take Cherry away to begin serving his sentence, Cherry said he was innocent and the victim of a campaign of lies.

When Garrett asked him whether he had anything to say, he motioned to the prosecutors.

"This whole bunch have lied all through this thing," Cherry said. "I've told the truth. I don't know why I'm going to jail for nothing."

Just feet away, the surviving family members of his victims sat in a single row of metal folding chairs, all dry-eyed, outwardly impassive. It was as if they were determined to send Cherry into the bleakness of his future without letting him see even one more glimpse of the pain that he had caused.

"I didn't do anything," Cherry said, again. A bailiff locked a set of handcuffs on Cherry's wrists, with a loud, ratcheting sound. "Good luck," Garrett said.

Cherry vanished through a side door and, as far as many of his victims are concerned, into a dark place in history. But at least, they said, it is now history.

©2002 San Francisco Chronicle   Page A - 1
Birmingham Sunday...Richard Farina (also in the DT)

Come round by my side and I'll sing you a song.
I'll sing it so softly, it'll do no one wrong.
On Birmingham Sunday the blood ran like wine,
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.
That cold autumn morning no eyes saw the sun,
And Addie Mae Collins, her number was one.
At an old Baptist church there was no need to run.
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom,

The clouds they were grey and the autumn winds blew,
And Denise McNair brought the number to two.
The falcon of death was a creature they knew,
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom,

The church it was crowded, but no one could see
That Cynthia Wesley's dark number was three.
Her prayers and her feelings would shame you and me.
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.

Young Carol Robertson entered the door
And the number her killers had given was four.
She asked for a blessing but asked for no more,
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.

On Birmingham Sunday a noise shook the ground.
And people all over the earth turned around.
For no one recalled a more cowardly sound.
And the choirs kept singing of Freedom.

The men in the forest they once asked of me,
How many black berries grew in the Blue Sea.
And I asked them right with a tear in my eye.
How many dark ships in the forest?

The Sunday has come and the Sunday has gone.
And I can't do much more than to sing you a song.
I'll sing it so softly, it'll do no one wrong.
And the choirs keep singing of Freedom.



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Subject: RE: BS: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: DMcG
Date: 23 May 02 - 11:16 AM

I echo that, Spaw. This song is one of the first I remember my sister learning to play out of choice - I was 11, she was 14, and we both lived in the UK. Acts like this change the world.

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Subject: RE: BS: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: Amergin
Date: 23 May 02 - 11:17 AM

Thank you, is disgusting that it took so long....but at least it is done...

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Subject: RE: BS: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: Giac
Date: 23 May 02 - 11:20 AM

Thanks, Spaw.

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Subject: RE: BS: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: chip a
Date: 23 May 02 - 11:47 AM

It's been a long time coming. Now let's not forget. Ever. Thanks Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 23 May 02 - 01:55 PM

Thanks Spaw. It's gratifying to see justice done, however belatedly, particularly for such an evil act as this. As I was only five years old when the bombing took place, I have not heard the song, but the message speaks for itself.

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Subject: RE: BS: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 May 02 - 03:31 PM

I wonder wonder whether he was really guilty. I gather he was convicted on circumstantial evidence? Are we sure that he wasn't a scapegoat? I am, personally, pretty sure he was guilty, but that opinion was formed in a fair absence of data.

Now, let's convict the Yogurt Shop Murder guys, remember that one, from Texas? Or does it have to be a civil rights thing?

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Subject: RE: BS: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: Wesley S
Date: 23 May 02 - 04:18 PM

Spike Lee made a documentary about the bombing called "Four Little Girls". Lets hope that HBO replays it soon. One chilling scene showed the mother of one of the girls holding the piece of concrete that killed her daughter.

And speaking of the song they interviewed one of the DA's who made a point of listening to this song every day. And he said he would continue to listen to it every day until all of the men were convicted.

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Subject: RE: BS: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: GUEST,sed (can't remember my password and email fo
Date: 23 May 02 - 04:29 PM

No doubt Richard Farina's song is beautiful and well-stated. His and Mimi's version and Joan's version are both great. But.................. justice is more than a song.

I was raised in the suburbs of Birmingham and spent many many years around that place. At the age of 54 I wonder about alot of issues such as so-called justice. What does it serve to put someone in jail when there is insufficient evidence of their guilt? I think it brings more paranoia than any satisfaction when one realizes that the system can railroad anyone or at least waste vast portions of any person's life and resources. Is Bob Cherry guilty? Who knows but him, if he can even remember what really happened. Sept 1963. I remember that time quite well. But memory and reality aren't always connected. 39 years!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's too long to wait. What does this conviction prove??????

I'm more sad than anything that yet another person is in prison all for the sake of superficial justice. Who will rest better tonight? Not I.

Singin' Steve Sedberry

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Subject: RE: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: chip a
Date: 23 May 02 - 04:45 PM

I will.

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Subject: RE: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: Wesley S
Date: 23 May 02 - 04:47 PM

Steve - I would like to think that this conviction proves that you can't get away with blowing up four little girls { or anyone else for that matter } even after 39 years.

I must be ignorant of some of the facts { but I plan to change that }. In what way do you think the DA's failed to prove his guilt ? How was he railroaded ?

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Subject: RE: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 May 02 - 12:09 AM

You have got to be kidding?????? The man admitted to his family and friends that he did it. He bragged about it. And when it comes to this most heinous crime, there is no time too long. Those four little girls are dead for no reason other than the amount of pigmalin (?sp?) in their skin. They are dead because they were at church practicing the singing of songs to praise a just and merciful God. And you are sad??? You make me sad, sir. I don't know you, and I don't doubt that you feel your sadness, but I just don't understand you. I hope that you will enlighten us about your comment, because it confuses and angers me.

I wish that I had the grace exhibited by the families of the victims.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 May 02 - 01:43 PM

Yes, it was circumstantial evidence for the most part as well as hearsay evidence, but even though memories may be faulty at this late date, the remembrances of so many, including his son, added up to a guilty verdict in the end. Think back to what it would have taken for these people to have come forward back then........

Railroaded? Yeah, back then the "railroading" was done by the Klan and to have come forward would have been as good as committing suicide. It would have taken a certain type of bravery, a particular courage, to which we all may aspire, but few of us have.

Railroaded? If Cherry, Cash(never tried-deceased), Chambliss, and Blanton, were railroaded, they did it to themselves with their own words to others. It takes very little to see that they were proud of their work. Every law enforcement agency involved up to and including the FBI knew who was responsible, but to get witnesses to testify was something else again

Railroaded? The lives of four little girls was put on the short line. They paid with their lives for the narrow-minded and vile beliefs of men with no conscience who would later brag of their deed.

Railroaded? Many of us could not think of Birmingham without a thought to the bombing and to Bull Connor. Our minds failed to see the lovely city and saw only it's past. Like Jackson with Beckwith, today, for the first time in many years, we can feel pride for a city that now deserves better.

Though we learn history through the large events of the times, history is written in small steps. Racism and bigotry still exist and the fight is not yet over. But yesterday a small step was taken along the road. Will I sleep better? I don't know. But I will lay down with a smile and a bit of that old inner-glow that accompanied the small steps taken by many of us long ago when the road was long, the path unsure, and the light but a feeble and flickering flame. A small step along the road was taken, but one that had to be taken and needed to be taken........and for many I think the sun shines a bit brighter and clearer over Birmingham today than it has in almost 40 years.

It is incumbent on us to right the wrongs whenever we can and to take measures to insure it doesn't happen again. As kids learn of this verdict, this case, they will learn a significant part of our history and in the learning will find that freedom is more than just a word.


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Subject: RE: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 May 02 - 02:08 PM

So, the "general consensus of opinion" is that although the evidence was circumstantial, there was so much of it that there was no reasonable doubt? I'll go along with that.

There is no statute of limitations for murder.

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Subject: RE: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: sed
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 10:01 AM

What is Forgiveness?

Matthew 18:21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22. Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34. And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

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Subject: RE: Birmingham Sunday-Freedom and Justice
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 15 Sep 04 - 07:10 AM

42 years ago today, see first item on the thread

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