Two years ago, I created a video based on a poem I wrote for my unpublished book of poetry, R.I.S.E.
“Dream of an Ancestor’s Nightmare” was birthed out of the anger, distress and frustration I felt when I was glued to various news media outlets via TV and internet as the details unfolded about the Charleston church massacre. I can still remember getting the CNN alert on my phone the night of June 17, 2015 that there had been a shooting at the oldest African Methodist Episcopal Church in the South, Emanuel AME Church.
The world would later find out that Dylann Roof, a white supremacist and domestic terrorist, murdered nine people including the senior pastor, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney. Roof was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in April of this year.
On this day in 1963, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Carol Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14) and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. Four Ku Klux Klan members planted a bomb, containing at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a time delay device, under the steps of the church near the basement. The blast was so intense that it decapitated and severely mutilated one of the girls to the point where she could only be identified by a ring and her clothing. After the FBI initially closed the investigation in 1968 with no charges being filed against the suspects, the case was reopened in 1971, and eventually Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr. (in 2001), Robert Edward Chambliss (in 1977), and Bobby Frank Cherry (in 2002) were convicted of murder. Herman Frank Cash, a suspected co-conspirator, was never formally charged.
So much has happened recently around the world that reignited my desire to share this video.
From Colin Kaepernick’s nonviolent protest of the National Anthem and his blacklisting in the NFL, to tiki torch toting white nationalists in Charlottesville and the subsequent killing of Heather D. Heyer in the vehicle ramming attack that also left more than 38 others injured, to 45’s pardon of authoritarian racist, Joe Arpaio, as Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, and 45 criticizing the Charlottesville protesters violence “from many sides”, to Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett’s arrest in Las Vegas and the police brutality he endured, to Jemele Hill rightly stating that 45 is a white supremacist on Twitter and ESPN reportedly attempting to remove her from broadcasting on “SportsCenter” earlier this week after Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a White House briefing that her comments were a “fireable offense”, to the long overdue removal of Confederate monuments around the country, to the latest DACA and healthcare news, I realize more and more that the more I think things have changed, the more they stay the same.
Technology has changed; the speed at which we have access to knowledge of current events has changed. America has historically been a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy built on slavery, fear, torture, rape, murder, and free labor. For those of you that voted for and support 45 and believe he’s going to make America great again, you and your forefathers are the main reason it’s never been great.
On the 54th anniversary of their death, this blog post is dedicated to those four little girls and countless others who have lost their lives for simply being Black. For civil rights. For justice and equality. For standing up and fighting the system. I salute you. #NeverForget