Clipped From The Delta Democrat-Times
the up few Hall of this corner on Walla ce Should Lead Drive To Rebuild Birmingham Church WASHINGTON - Three contracting pictures sre before me as 1 write this column. One is the recollection of a handsome young man with an almost boyish face, smoking a long black cigar, sitting in my living room and telling me of his plans as governor of Alabama. The second is the mental picture of little girls in white dresses, neatly Ironed, pigtails tied in rib. bons, going to Sunday School in Birmingham. The third is the final picturt of those same little girls, dresses c r u m p l e d , bodies bloody, one with her head blown off, being carried away on stretchers. It was the Lord's day in Birmingham, supposed lo be a day of peace. And it was children's day at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Tho theme was forgiveness - tho story of how Joseph forgave his brothers when they were jealous of him and sold him into bondage. The people of that church have a lot to forgive now, especially the fathers and mothers of those little girls in crumpled white dresses. Rev. John Cross, their pastor, took the lead in urging forgiveness when he seized a megaphone minutes after Ihe bombing and shouted an anguished appeal: "Please go home! The Lord is our shepherd. Wa shall not want." YES THEY have a lot to forgive at the 16th Street Baptist Church -- the broken bodies of their children, the broken church, the broken stained glass windows they had saved so long to buy. How many collections those windows had required! And how many times the mothers of those little girls had washed them and dressed them and sent them off to Sunday School to learn patience and forgiveness! Now their crumpled bodies lay mute on bloodstained shoe Is; .and the dusty plaster, the splintered pews, the ripped up flooring, tho tattered prayerbooks, the pieces of glass -- shallered glass everywhere - all bore silent testimony that Ibero was much on the other side to forgive. One stained glass window remained - Christ leading a group of children. His face was blown out - symbolic of the fact that the spirit ot Christ has been blown out of many parts of Birmingham today. Gov. George Wallace, tho man who leads the state of Alabama, sat in my living room last winter, handsome, serene, confident, puffing his cigar. He'd been gov- errr.ir of Alabama about three months and expected no problems. He had been the friend of the "Nigra", he said, had served on the board of directors nt Tuskegee, attended meetings with the Rockefellers in New York, smoked their one dollar cigars, but refused to follow their ideas on the race problem. That problem, as far as Ilia schools were concerned, was to permit no integration. "What are you going lo do about the University of Alabama?" I asked, knowing that integration wns due shortly. "Are you going to let It become another University of Mississippi?" * * * "WE ARE not going to retract one inch," he said. "I don't care what the other states do. I have announced that I would draw a line in Ihe dust, and I shall stand in the door lo block the entry of federal troops or federal marshals or anyone-else. They will have to arrest me before they integrale the University of Alabama." "But you have been a judge/' I said, "and you know the importance of respecting the authority ol the courts. If you set an ex. ample of opposition, you undermine the courts and give a cuÂ« lo everyone who believes in violence." "I'm against violence," repeated the governor, puffing his cigar, "but I'm also against Integration." 1 remembered the bombings ol the past - the twisted lockers, the torn texibooks at the Clinton High School in Tennessee, which so many people bad worked so hard to build; the gaping holes in the floor, the battered classrooms at Osage, West Virginia; the s o d d e n prayerbooks and masses of debrij at the templa in Atlanta. These were the scars of violence sure to follow when men at the top give signals of encouragement to the hate mongers below. "But ycu are the highest executive in Alabama," I said in a last plea to a man I had known long before he was elected. "The pattern you set of opposilion will be a hunting license for violenca to all the rabble-rousers and tho white Citizens Councils and all the Kluxers in Alabama." + * t MY PLEA fell on deaf ears. The Governor insisted be would stand in the door and draw a line in the dust to Ihe very end. The governor of Alabama must suffer sleepless nights this week --nights haunted by the specter of those four little girls who were sent to study forgiveness on the Lord's day and were carried out of Sunday School on stretchers. THE ALMANAC By United Press International Today is Friday, Sept. 20, tha 263rd day of 1963 with 102 to follow. The moon is approaching first quarter. The evening stars are Jupiter and Saturn.