A letter written in 1976 went viral this week.
In 1970, the newly elected Alabama Attorney General, 29 year old Bill Baxley, reopened the 1963 16th Street Church bombing case that killed four young African-American girls and injured countless others. This enraged many people, specifically the Ku Klux Klan. In 1976, an outraged Edward R. Fields, Grand Dragon of the New Order Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of the National States’ Rights Party, sent Baxley a threatening letter.
Mr. Baxley’s response to Mr. Field’s letter:
Dear “Dr.” Fields, my response to your letter of February 19, 1976 is — kiss my ass.”
Mr. Baxley is now a Birmingham attorney, and was interviewed in 2007 by the Hoover Gazette:
“I was aware there was danger out there. But I was young, you feel invincible, and I knew I was doing right.”
The incident marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and was the motivation behind and Spike Lee’s 1997 historical documentary, 4 Little Girls and the 1964 Joan Baez song Birmingham Sunday. You can view a copy of the letter on the Letters Of Note blog.
Here’s the video: