On the evening of June 17, 2015, a mass shooting took place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston. Nine people were shot and killed.
You can’t help but wonder, ‘What if nine people had been executed in a church in Birmingham?’
Would there be rioting in the streets of Birmingham like there was in Ferguson–or would we come together as a community as they did in Charleston?
You may not realize it, but murder on church property is quite common. There have been more than 780 deadly attacks in U.S. places of worship in the past 15 years and it’s estimated that arsonists set fires to about 250 churches each year.
As far as I know, we are the only city that defines itself by a church massacre–the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.
The question becomes–has Birmingham matured and learned from a horrific event or are we destined to make the same mistake again?
Glenn Beck, radio talk show host and conservative activist, worries about the survival of America, but believes Birmingham is the city that could take the lead to save our nation.
Beck is scheduled to speak in Birmingham on August 28th, on the 52nd anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Guiding Light Church.
Beck predicts the South will rise again, but this time the South will save America–not divide it.
“It’s why we’re kicking things off in Birmingham, Alabama. I think Birmingham, Alabama is going to be a place that restarts the country. It’s known for all of the bad things that happened in the ’50s. I think Birmingham, Alabama, is going to be known for all of the good things that happen here on out, just like Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is forever going to be known for its good people, and I think Birmingham is going to be next on that list.”
I pray Birmingham never suffers another monstrous event, but if we do, I believe we will serve as a role model for America and the rest of the world.
Birmingham and Charleston may not have grown as large and therefore as impersonal as Atlanta and some Southern cities, but we’ve maintained our sense of community.
And a sense of community may be our biggest asset.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12, a division of Intermark Group, and co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).