September 15, 1963: Four young girls–Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley–busily made the finishing touches on their white dresses in the basement of 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. They were about to start the Youth Day Sunday service at their church when the bomb exploded. It left a hole in the floor five feet wide and two feet deep. The blast killed all four girls. It decapitated poor Cynthia. Across the nation and the globe the event elicited outrage and grief. Nearly everyone condemned this white supremacist racial terrorist attack on innocent human beings at a house of worship.
I open my book, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, because it illustrates the consequences of compromise with racism. Such an act could not have occurred without the apathy, cowardice, and tacit approval of countless people, even those who called themselves Christians.
The most egregious acts of racism occur within a context of compromise. We must end complicity and confront racism.