Terms with Conscience
In September of 1963, the Birmingham Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
was bombed during a Youth Sunday celebration. Four little girls, Addie
Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, and Carole Robertson were 14 years when
they died. Denise McNair was only eleven. All four girls were killed
instantly when the ceiling of the basement collapsed on top of them.
Just weeks earlier, Martin Luther King Jr. had given his "I have a
dream" speech in Washington D.C. Now, he spoke of the bombing. He said:
"The innocent blood of these little girls may well serve as the redemptive
force that will bring new light to this dark city. Indeed, this tragic
event may cause the white South to come to terms with its conscience."
Morris sees responded by coming to terms with his own conscience as
Martin Luther King Jr. had said. He and Beverly were still members of
the Pike Road Baptist Church, a church that the Dees family had helped
build. After law school, Morris Dees became the superintendent of the
On September 22, 1963, Morris Dees asked the members of the church
for help. The devout Baptists responded asking whom needed help. When
it was revealed that it was a black church and a black community that
needed help, the church went silent. Morris Dees said a prayer for the
black church. Beverly stood up and too prayed silently. The rest of
the congregation stared quietly.
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