Today in history: 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963
September 15, 2014

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was used as a meeting-place for civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and Fred Shutterworth. Tensions became high when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) became involved in a campaign to register African American to vote in Birmingham.

On Sunday, 15th September, 1963, a white man was seen getting out of a white and turquoise Chevrolet car and placing a box under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Soon afterwards, at 10.22 a.m., the bomb exploded killing Denise McNair (11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14). The four girls had been attending Sunday school classes at the church. Twenty-three other people were also hurt by the blast.

Civil rights activists blamed George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, for the killings. Only a week before the bombing he had told the New York Times that to stop integration Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.”

A witness identified Robert Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as the man who placed the bomb under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. He was arrested and charged with murder and possessing a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without a permit. On 8th October, 1963, Chambliss was found not guilty of murder and received a hundred-dollar fine and a six-month jail sentence for having the dynamite.

The case was unsolved until Bill Baxley was elected attorney general of Alabama. He requested the original Federal Bureau of Investigation files on the case and discovered that the organization had accumulated a great deal of evidence against Chambliss that had not been used in the original trial.

In November, 1977 Chambliss was tried once again for the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. Now aged 73, Chambliss was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Chambliss died in an Alabama prison on 29th October, 1985.

On 17th May, 2000, the FBI announced that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing had been carried out by the Ku Klux Klan splinter group, the Cahaba Boys. It was claimed that four men, Robert Chambliss, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry had been responsible for the crime. Cash was dead but Blanton and Cherry were arrested and Blanton has since been tried and convicted.

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aplaceforemma said:

Hi! Long time follower of the blog and huge fan. Have you heard of the Black Chronicles II exhibition in London? I can't link you in the ask box, but if you search that it should take you to the website. (I mean...you've probably already seen it, but I just thought I'd risk it and see if you were interested).

I’ll share the link so people can check it out!

The exhibit is current and will go on until November 29:

Autograph ABP presents Black Chronicles II, a new exhibition exploring black presences in 19th and early 20th-century Britain, through the prism of studio portraiture – continuing our critical mission of writing black photographic history.

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Crawford Priory is not a priory at all but called such for its resemblance to a monastery. It was in fact just the lovely home and estate to some of the Earls of Crawford in Scotland. It has been abandoned since 1968! Source

Was Our Planet Really Once a Hell on Earth?

For the first 500 million years of its existence, our planet was believed to literally be a hell on Earth. But new research shows that this early Earth may have been surprisingly similar to the present day, complete with oceans, continents and active crustal plates.

This alternate view of Earth’s first geologic eon, called the Hadean, is based on a comparison of zircon crystals formed four billion years ago with those formed during the same time period in Iceland. This icy country is supposedly what early Earth geological conditions were like, and so serves as a sort of blueprint for scientists studying the beginnings of our planet.

"We reasoned that the only concrete evidence for what the Hadean was like came from the only known survivors: zircon crystals — and yet no one had investigated Icelandic zircon to compare their telltale compositions to those that are more than 4 billion years old, or with zircon from other modern environments," lead researcher Calvin Miller of Vanderbilt University said in a statement.

Until 30 years ago, scientists thought the Hadean period was hellishly hot, and Earth was covered by a giant “magma ocean.” This view was based on the fact that they could never find rock formations from that time period, jumping to the conclusion that the intense heat melted the rocks, leaving behind no trace.

But then geologists discovered zircon crystals - a mineral typically associated with granite - preserved in younger sandstones. Radiometric dating and other analytical techniques allowed the researchers to study early Earth’s crust via these four-billion-year-old crystals, as well as extract information about the environment in which the crystals formed, including the temperature and whether water was present.

And after comparing these crystals with about 1,000 ancient zircons sifted from volcano and sand samples off Iceland, the researchers found that Icelandic zircons grew from much hotter magmas than Hadean zircons.

Despite the assumption that Earth was insanely hot, their analysis revealed that at some points during the Hadean period Earth’s crust cooled enough so that surface water could form - possibly on the scale of oceans.

"Our conclusion is counterintuitive," said Miller. "Hadean zircons grew from magmas rather similar to those formed in modern subduction zones, but apparently even ‘cooler’ and ‘wetter’ than those being produced today."

The findings were published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

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Askos with painted scenes and applied figures. 

Dating to about 270-200 BCE, this askos was found at Cuma in Campania, Italy, and was made at Canosa, Apulia (modern Puglia).

Vessels of this type were evidently not intended to be functional, and were often made to be placed inside tombs. The British Museum houses another Canosan vessel shaped like a head, which you may view here. Canosa was a highly important city of ancient Apulia, which, although influenced by the Greeks, was able to maintain its local culture through to Roman times.

This vase is basically an askos, a simple globular spouted vessel of a shape found in Italy for over two millennia. By the Hellenistic period askoi were over-burdened with a wealth of decoration. This example has two winged horses flying over a brown sea on a pink background. Three winged figures of Nike or Victory stand on the false spouts and handle, and foreparts of horses spring from the body of the vessel. The applied reliefs depict a winged head of the gorgon Medusa and a dancing maenad, a follower of Dionysos. (BM)

Courtesy of & currently located at the British Museum, London, GR 1862.7-12.2. Photos taken by SpirosK photography.

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[Who tells your history? What should we use history for? Can history provide a perspective on today? Who has power over history?]

More thought-provoking and challenging displays from the Swedish Historical Museum coming this week, submitted by xanthy-m!

Reader xanthy-m has submitted more photos from a visit to the Swedish Historical Museum (official website), including displays on historiography, Vikings, Roma and Travelers in Sweden, the racialization of the Saami, Nazi propaganda, and the history of scientific racism. These images will be organized into topical posts coming out periodically this week along with usual art history articles and essays. I hope you all will find them as insightful and provocative as I do.

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