It was interesting to read a book written by someone who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement. When I read about it in history books, it seems so distant, but when I read this book, it showed me how important it really was.
While the World Watched is a moving account of one womans experience during the Civil Rights Movement. As a resident of Birmingham, AL, she was a member of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and was friends with the four girls who were tragically killed there when the church was bombed by the KKK. As she describes what life was like for her as a young black girl during this tumultuous time, she really drew me in. While its definitely an account of historical events. Mrs. McKinstry tells her story as a story. Its interesting, poignant, and kept me anxiously listening for the next chapter.
While some have mentioned they didnt like the lengthy quotes from various speeches and writings, I felt that it gave broader context to what her personal experiences were.
I also appreciated her focus on how her relationship with the Lord grew (and has continued to grow) in the 50 years since the bombing. While she could have easily become bitter and hardened due to her circumstances, she has allowed the Lord to change her from the inside out. I appreciated her message of love and forgivenessprobably moreso because of her circumstances.
The main takeaway from reading (or listening to) While the World Watched was personal. After spending most of my life in the deep south, Ive always been aware of the horrible things that happened here. However, after hearing a more detailed account of that time, I realized that this is still something that we dont talk much aboutin schools, at home, or even in the community. Im ashamed to say that this is the most thorough history lesson Ive ever received on the Civil Rights Movement. Its not just embarrassing. Its downright shameful. Thank you, Mrs. McKinstry, for the courage you displayed when sharing your story. I have been enlightened and changed because of it.
Having grown up a white child in Kentucky in the 60s, I remember much of the racial tension so prevalent during those years. I remember the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F Kennedy, and George Wallace. I remember forced desegregation of our schools and racial riots that shut down my high school for three days. However, because I was a white child, I was on the edge watching these things happen to other people.
Carolyn Maull McKinstry, a black girl-child, was in the middle of the turmoil in Birmingham, Alabama. These things were happening to her, her family, and her friends. Four of her best friends were killed in 1963 when their church was bombed. Carolyn escaped death by just seconds and her life was never that same. She describes marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and her active involvement in the Civil Rights movement. She describes the depression which haunted her for years as a result of the hatred shown toward her and her people by so many in the South. Most importantly, however, Carolyn also tells of learning to forgive and to love others. She tells of healing in her life and in her heart brought about by the love of Jesus Christ and her desire to share that love with others.
This book is heart wrenching, yet compelling and is a worthwhile read. It reminds us of how far we have come and yet how far we have to go.
I read this book soon after taking a college class on civil rights in the history of American education. This memoir perfectly complemented what I researched in the class and gave me a very poignant, inspiring look at civil rights issues. The author has a good storyteller's voice and her story was both moving and interesting. I liked the inclusions in the book of the MLK speeches, photos, and Jim Crow Laws. They brought more understanding to a time period I didn't experience. If you're interested in the civil rights movement or history in general, I also suggest you see the movie "The Help" and read Jennifer Valent's "Fireflies in December".
This is a subject that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, because we don't like to be reminded of ugly chapters in our country's history. It's easier to try to just put them behind us, a part of our history that's now long in the past. But we can't learn from history if we don't know it.
Reading the firsthand account of Carolyn Maulls experiences growing up in Birmingham gave me a new perspective on the whole subject. I had, over the years, picked up some general knowledge about the Civil Rights Movement, but seeing it through the eyes of a child who lived through it gave it a vividness and emotional immediacy that whatever I had read previously lacked. Its one thing to read about the fact of atrocities committed decades ago. Its another to feel her anxieties as she tries to cope with the violent death of her friends.
The book is a mix of both eyewitness account of events, particularly the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the Childrens March, and Carolyns personal struggle to deal with grief, fear, and depression that resulted. My one criticism of the book would be that it is difficult to follow the thread of either the historical events or her personal struggles, because the story jumps about chronologically.