Civil RIghts Era Memoir–While the World Watched
June 27, 2011, 7:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is the third book I have read for the Tyndale Summer Reading program. I must say that I think it was my favorite. Don’t tell my husband, though. He thinks all I like to read are, in his words, “romance novels” or books with salacious love scenes. I would refute this further, but I can see two prominent titles on the bookcase near my side of the bed. Bride of Pendarric and Heir of Kiloran. Not Harelquins, mind you, but not scholarly titles either.

Back to the book in question. “While the World Watched” is a memoir from the 1960s. Carolyn Maull McKinstry was fifteen years old when her church, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed. When Carolyn, who assisted in the church office, arrived at the church that morning, she is told that the telephone has been ringing all morning. The callers tell whoever answers that the church will be bombed that morning. Carolyn considers the lady who has been answering the telephone to be a little high-strung and dismisses what has been shared.

At 10:20 a.m., Carolyn, collecting the attendance records for the childrens’ and adults’ Sunday School classes, stops by the girls’ restroom to say hello to four of her close friends. When she returns to the church office, she answers the ringing telephone. The caller says “Three minutes,” and hangs up. Carolyn does not know what to make of this and shrugs it off. As she enters the Sanctuary of the church at 10:22 a.m., an explosion shakes the church. The church has been bombed.

There were four casualties. The four girls that Carolyn had just visited with in the girls’ bathroom.

I admire Carolyn for her strength over the next four decades. She does deal with depression which she tries to combat with drinking. Once she realizes that she must quit drinking, she realizes what she must do. Forgive. Forgive those who bombed the church. Forgive those who cannot see past the color of skin.


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