Chuck Colson

Fortunately, Woods’s words did not prove to be prophetic. The violent deaths of four girls suddenly opened the eyes of a city and a nation. The bombing became pivotal in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And Birminghamcongregations, both black and white, came together to mourn the girls’ deaths. More than eight thousand people and eight hundred clergy attended the funerals. The city’s ministers of all races and denominations united. From their pulpits, they preached Christian love and denounced racial hatred. On each anniversary of the bombing, congregations have joined together to remember September 15, 1963 . And they have been determined to change Birmingham’s heart.

Today, the good news is that the city is thriving. It is a beautiful peace-loving city, where African-Americans teach at colleges and graduate schools, lead the city in its cutting-edge medical technology, and fill important leadership positions in every area of politics, industry, and business. Birminghamhas even elected an African-American mayor.

The Sixteenth  Street  Baptist  Church, begun in 1911, still provides an active ministry, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute teaches racial harmony. Hundreds flock through to see Martin Luther King’s jail cell, photos of lynchings, and statues of attack dogs and fire hoses. They also see “Angels of Change”—a video tribute to four little girls who put a face on racial hatred and helped change a city.

Birmingham conquered racial hate and violence because black and white Christian congregations pulled together in unity, love, and hard work. They sought to heal the hurts of hate with the Gospel. And the good news is that if this can happen in Birmingham Alabama—once a deeply segregated, violent steel town—it can happen anywhere.

For further reading and information:

Learn more about the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute .

Killers of the Innocents ,” BirminghamWorld, 18 September 1963 .

Arthur Osgood, “ Racial Tension Mounts in Birmingham after Four Killed in Church Bombing ,” The MontgomeryAdvertiser, 16 September 1963 .

Robert Gordon, “ Birmingham Pays Homage to Slain Teen-Age Boys ,” BirminghamWorld, 25 September 1963 .

Kevin Sack, “ Ex-Klansman Is Found Guilty in ’63 Bombing ,” New York Times, 2 May 2001 .

Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness (Doubleday, 2000), 151.

Tim Stafford, “ Birmingham, 1963 ,” Books & Culture, July/August 2001.

James C. Cobb, “ No ‘Closure’ ,” Wall Street Journal, 13 May 2001 .

BreakPointCommentary No. 030828, “ King’s Dream. ” (Archived commentary; free registration required.)

Dara Fisk-Ekanger, “ The Day Racism Hit Home ,” Boundless, 13 December 2000 .

How a Former Klansman Rejected Racism and Came to Christ ”—Rev. Thomas A. Tarrants, III, President of the C.S. Lewis Institute, gave this testimony at a recent Prison Fellowship banquet. He was a former Klansman who nearly died from multiple bullet wounds when he was arrested. In prison he came to Christ and now speaks out against racism and for the superiority of the Christian worldview.

Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson was the Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon and served time in prison for Watergate-related charges. In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, which, in collaboration with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Chuck Colson's column. Sign up today and receive daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.