Looking back…

The line to enter the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
The line to enter the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Looking back can be painful; explaining it even harder.

Today, my kids and I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. It is an awesome repository for the stories of Birmingham’s role in the American Civil Rights Movement. Initially, I didn’t think it was inappropriate to bring my 4- and 5-year-olds, but it seemed that my daughter learned more of our history than she was ready to.

Right from the start, it was overwhelming. In one of the galleries, we stood in front of a painting of the four little girls who were killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Church on Sept. 15, 1963.

My daughter said, “Mommy, can you read what it says” as she pointed to the caption underneath.

I reluctantly read the description about how the bright-faced girls were getting ready for Sunday school when they were killed by an explo…

Her eyes widened.

“Little kids were killed?! Who killed them? Why?”

What was I thinking? How do you explain what happened to a 5-year-old?

Then, she saw images of people being water hosed, bitten by dogs. It was too much. Yet, it is our story.

I tried to explain. I did my best.

It all got me to thinking: One day in the future, our actions today may have to be explained to a young child. Let’s make sure that it is a story that will make them smile and not have to turn to their mother and weep.


6 Replies to “Looking back…”

  1. ouch. Those are conversations I haven’t had with Sawyer yet, and I’m not looking forward to it. I can only imagine your pain (and not really) and S’s shock. I’m so glad that they don’t have to understand it all yet and can simply be friends. I hope S is doing ok!

  2. I fully understand where you are coming from…when I get asked that question by a really young person I find myself often with out proper words to explain what hate is and why people hate.

  3. Great closing thought. When 16th Street was bombed, my mom was at church at St. John A.M.E Church on 15th Street wondering would her children would have to suffer the same ills. Thank God times have changed. @msasmoore

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