On 15 September 1963 a bomb exploded in the basement of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. The ensuing fire and death of four little girls placed the violence of white supremacy on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers. It also entered the 16th Street Church into a long history of attacks against houses of worship in the American South. Though churches burn for any number of reasons, including accident and insurance fraud, church arson in southern culture has frequently been associated with a symbolic assault on a community’s core institution.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publisher Statement

From The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 19: Violence edited by Amy Louise Wood. Copyright © 2011 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu

Find online at http://www.uncpress.unc.edu/browse/book_detail?title_id=2225

Please note that downloads of the article are for private/personal use only.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.