Over at Student Activism, Angus Johnston has an interesting post about the Birmingham church bombing that killed "four little girls" in 1963, and how some crucial facts about it have been forgotten or overlooked.
For instance, the four little girls weren't little girls at all - three of them were 14 and the youngest, Denise McNair, was 11.
Johnston writes, "There is a mythology to our collective memory of the civil rights movement, a mythology in which the righteousness of the integrationist cause is sometimes misrepresented as innocence. Teenagers become — as in the title of Spike Lee’s magnificent documentary on the church bombing — 'little girls.' A teenager driven by anger to throw rocks at racists disappears entirely."
This seems about right. The people involved in the civil rights movement were great people, but history has turned them into saints. I'm not sure this is particularly helpful. After all, the whole point of mass movement is that all sorts of people can come together to make change. Once change becomes something only saints and innocents are capable of, nobody will ever try to change the world.
Click here to read Johnston's whole piece.