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Senator Doug Jones Writes Book on the Birmingham Church Bombing That Changed the Course of Civil Rights

As he fell behind an accused sexual predator in returns from Alabama’s 2017 Senate election, Doug Jones admits, he allowed himself an almost “unbearable” lament familiar to thousands of frustrated Alabamians who came of age in the George Wallace era: “Oh, my poor home state.” Near midnight, it appeared that Jones’s pistol-waving opponent, the former Alabama Supreme Court justice Roy Moore, would join the century-long parade of reactionary buffoons Alabama’s white majority has sent to Congress and the governor’s mansion.

But in the final count for that Dec. 12 election, a cresting wave of modern sentiment among black voters and white women in the state’s rich Republican suburbs handed Jones a 22,000-vote victory, making Alabama the last state of the old Confederacy to join the New South. It was the biggest upset in Alabama political history, especially given Jones’s background as a successful prosecutor of Ku Klux Klansmen who perpetrated the signature civil rights crime of the 1960s, the fatal bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

“Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing That Changed the Course of Civil Rights” is a valuable addition to the historical record of Alabama’s role as the battleground state of the civil rights revolution. It provides an inside look at how Jones, a former United States attorney from Birmingham, and his role model, the former Alabama attorney general Bill Baxley, sent to prison three Birmingham Klansmen who murdered four black girls by dynamiting their church on Sept. 15, 1963. The four children, aged 11 to 14 — Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Morris Wesley — died instantly in a women’s restroom where they were preparing for Sunday school.

Read entire article at NY Times