I was here in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sept. 15, 1963, when that infamous bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church. It failed to wake me because I was sound asleep at home on a Sunday morning, eight miles away from downtown.
It had been a furiously busy month for my employer, The Birmingham News. School integration had come, and Gov. George Wallace had defied a court order to admit blacks to white schools. This set off a series of demonstrations by blacks, which Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Conner immortalized by hammering them with police dogs and fire hoses. Wallace himself was zipping about the nation shooting off his mouth. A torchbearer in a powder plant, he confided to the New York Times that what Alabama needed was a “few first-class funerals.”