Attacks on Black Churches Span from the Slavery Era to Today

Written by PlayBack

By Evette D. Champion

In a world where we are fond of looking outside the country for terrorists, the sad truth is there are terrorists right here on our own soil, born and raised. These American terrorists have been attacking the community for many years—all the way back since .

One of the attacks was on the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. These domestic terrorists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, bombed the church which resulted in the death of four young girls. Spike Lee explored their lives and the attack in his documentary titled, “Four Little Girls.”

During the 1990’s, white supremacists were believed to light Black churches on fire.

“Congressional hearings were held in 1996 at the end of a two-year period when such arson spiked across the southeast,” said Conor Fridedersdorf in an article in The Atlantic.

“In South Carolina alone, black churches that suffered probable arson attacks included Mt. Zion AME Church in Williamsburg, Macedonia Baptist Church in Manning, Saint Paul Baptist Church in Lexington, Rosemary Baptist Church in Barnwell, St. John Baptist Church in Dixiana, Effington Baptist Church, Mount Olivet Baptist Church, and Allen’s Chapel.”

According to statistics recorded by the FBI, African Americans are the primary victims of hate crimes in the country. The FBI was able to identify 3,563 victims of hate crimes that were racially motivated—approximately 66 percent of all hate crimes are black victims.

The most recent case of an attack on a black church is the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. The Emanuel AME Church was founded in 1861 by Morris Brown. Brown grew increasingly frustrated with racism so he founded the church.

Another one of the church’s founders, Denmark Vasey, was killed because of his participation in a revolt against slavery.

Attacks on the churches were the result of anti-slavery efforts.

Despite the efforts to bring down the Emanuel AME church, it continued to play a big role in . It was a resting point for the Underground Railroad, and it was where both Booker T. Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King spoke.

The pastor who was slain during the June 17th attack, Clementa Pinckney, was active in state politics. Over a decade, he was a member of the South Carolina State Senate. He also was an advocate for the legislature that required police to wear body cameras. According to the Charleston Post and Courier, Pinckney said it was a number one priority.


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