The Birmingham Trial and Race Relations in America

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Jury selection has begun in the trial of the last of the four men accused of the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham Baptist Church that killed four young black girls and tore at the hearts of a nation struggling with race relations.

Bobby Frank Cherry — now 71 — was a former Ku Klux Klan member who assisted three others in planting the powerful bomb on September 15, 1963. Two of his three conspirators were convicted and the other died before charges were ever brought.

The Birmingham bombing was one of the most emotionally significant events of the civil rights struggle. Southern African-American leaders hope that this final trial will help to bring closure to not only a painful event, but also a painful era — an era where racist whites were not held accountable.

This hour, as Birmingham looks for closure, we examine the state of race relations in America's South. How much has changed in 40 years and how much is racism still a part of every day life?


David Garrow, Pulitzer prize-winning author of "Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference," professor at Emory University Law School

Tom Cherry, Son of the former Ku Klux Klansman now on trial for Birmingham Church bombings

Bob Johnson, Associated Press correspondent covering the Church bombing trial

This program aired on May 6, 2002.


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