STARRED REVIEW
March 2019

Bending Toward Justice

By Doug Jones

In Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing That Changed the Course of Civil Rights, current Alabama U.S. Senator Jones recounts the church bombing that became a rallying point for the civil rights movement, as well as the criminal cases against the two surviving bombing suspects that he prosecuted in 2001 and 2002 as a U.S. attorney.

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On the morning of September 15, 1963, an explosion at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killed four girls gathered in the church’s ladies’ lounge and injured 22 other people. Ku Klux Klan members were immediately suspected of bombing the African-American church. But years passed, and for a variety of reasons, the suspected domestic terrorists walked free.

In November 1977, national attention was drawn back to the case and to the city once nicknamed “Bombingham” when attorney Bill Baxley successfully prosecuted a suspect in the bombing. A young law student, Doug Jones, looked on from a balcony. He was raised only a few miles from 16th Street Baptist Church, yet like many young white people at the time, Jones was largely ignorant of the strife faced by children of color. And though that trial was successful, more bombing suspects remained free.

In Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing That Changed the Course of Civil Rights, current Alabama U.S. Senator Jones recounts the church bombing that became a rallying point for the civil rights movement, as well as the criminal cases against the two surviving bombing suspects that he prosecuted in 2001 and 2002 as a U.S. attorney. Some people around the nation—and certainly in Birmingham—argued that the past should stay in the past. A prison guard once told Jones that the elderly bombers shouldn’t be left to die in jail. Jones disagrees. Throughout the book, he reiterates the importance of justice—for the girls’ families, certainly, but also for all people affected by this act of terrorism. Bending Toward Justice is a vivid journey toward that understanding. As Jones and co-author Greg Truman lay out the details of these pivotal civil rights cases, they also examine how much the country has learned—and how much it still has to grow.

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Bending Toward Justice

Bending Toward Justice

By Doug Jones
All Points
ISBN 9781250201447

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