Why do we allow terrorists to define Birmingham?

Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church bombing

I can’t help myself.

When I see pictures of victims, particularly children, who were killed or maimed in the Boston Marathon bombing or the Newtown massacre, my eyes well up and I grieve.  I know I’m not alone, but knowing these horrendous events sadden others doesn’t make me feel better.

Our President said. “Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.  And acts of terror—whether they are shootings or bombings are happening much too often.

From 1947 to 1965, Birmingham was the site of about 50 racially motivated bomb attacks. We would probably agree that these bombings were acts of terror set off by a small number of terrorists.

But I wonder.

When I think about Newtown, I don’t think of the residents of Newtown as bad people. I don’t feel the people of Aurora are evil because they had two mass shootings.  The greatest U.S. act of terror was at the World Trade Center in New York, but no one faults New Yorkers. We think of people from Boston, Newtown, Aurora, and New York as victims.

Yet many people want to define Birmingham as hateful because of terrorist acts performed by a few depraved individuals.

I wasn’t an adult at the time of the bombings, but my parents and all their friends were kind, decent people.  I remember them being apprehensive and scared—as you might expect.

You may want to say there were other civil rights embarrassments in Birmingham, but I contend that contemptuous acts occurred regularly all over the South.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., once said “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.

Research recently done by the Multiracial Congregations Project found that today, 50 years after Dr. King’s comments, 8% of Christian congregations in the U.S. are racially mixed.

Some people have described Birmingham as the most segregated city in America, but Birmingham doesn’t own segregation–it’s everywhere.

My friends and neighbors in Birmingham are the kindest, most generous people in the world.

I contend the good people of Birmingham are just as much victims as the fine people of Newtown.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers(Opt out at any time)

David Sher is a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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