Foot Soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement: Virgil Ware and Johnny Robinson (Killed in 1963)

Written by Jae Jones

Following the deadly church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963, two boys were killed by white Americans. The black boys were growing up in Alabama during a time when the country was segregated and divided by racial inequalities. Here is the story of how  and Johnny Robinson lost their life just as the four little black girls during the bombing.

Virgil Lamar Ware was the third child out of six. He was a great student and enjoyed playing sports. His dreams was one day to become a lawyer. Like most children during that time, Ware was just being a child. He was out with his brother looking for a bike so that he could start a paper route. While out looking for the bike he ran into two white boys both 16-years-old: Michael Lee Farley and Larry Joe Sims.

Both Farley and Sims had been Eagle Scouts who had attended a rally earlier during the day. The two boys knew about the bombing and what was going on in the city. Farley decided that he wanted to scare the Black brothers by getting Sims to shoot Farley’s handgun as they rode by on their motorbike. When Sims fired, Ware tumbled off the handlebars of his brother’s bike. The White boys never stopped to find out why. Ware had been hit in the chest and face, the 13-year-old died. Sims confessed to shooting Ware, saying he done so accidentally and had fired with his eyes clothes. Both boys were sentenced to 7-months in jail but the judge reduced it to two years’ probation. Ware is now acknowledged as another “foot soldier” of the Civil Rights Movement. In 2013, Ware was inducted into Birmingham’s Gallery of Distinguished Citizens.

also died that day. Robinson had heard about the bombings and death of the 4 little girls, and he was angry. He along with other black youth decided to demonstrate. They were confronted by white teens driving by and shouting racial slurs. According to reports by the news media,  the black group were throwing rocks at the car which was draped in a confederate flag. When the police arrived to the scene, the crowd broke up and ran away. As Robinson ran, he was shot in the back by police officer Jack Parker. No one was ever prosecuted for Robinson’s death.



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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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