Could the events in The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 take place today?

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Senseless violence has not ended since the time of the bombing that takes place in this novel. In Birmingham, AL in 1963, a bombing in a church killed four young girls. The violence was racially motivated. Could a racially motivated bombing or other act of violence take place today? Yes. Events of recent years have proved that.

The bombings in Birmingham could be called hate crimes. Hate crimes and random acts of violence still happen today. On that level, yes, the events in Birmingham could happen at any time. If the events in Birmingham are viewed through the lens of a racially motivated act of violence, then again, yes, this could happen today and has happened in recent times. Think about the various shootings that have happened around the country where the shooter claims to attack based on racial motivations. One can also look at the possibility of the Birmingham events happening again and think about them as a racially motivated bombing. This too could happen today. The most recent event that mirrors the Birmingham bombing was an attack at the Boston Marathon in 2013. 

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The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963, a novel by Christopher Paul Curtis takes place at a time when Birmingham, Alabama was very violent. In the novel, the Watson family leaves their home in Flint, Michigan, and visits their grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama. Their goal is to leave their older son, Byron, in Birmingham so that he can improve his behavior. However, while they are in Birmingham, they witness the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. This was a real event that sadly killed four African-American girls. 

These events could likely not take place today, nor would anyone want them to. In 1963, the Civil Rights Movement launched a campaign to desegregate Birmingham, considered then to be one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. The movement used sit-ins, boycotts, and marches in an attempt to desegregate the city, and movement leaders recruited high school, college, and younger students to march in the campaign. Many African-American children were subjected to violence, as they were arrested and attacked with fire hoses and dogs. Images from this campaign were broadcast around the world and helped turn public opinion against segregation. All of these events form the backdrop of the part of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 that takes place in the south, and they explain why the Watsons are on edge while they are in Birmingham and why they return with Byron and their other children to Michigan. 

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