Four Negro churches bombed in Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Jan. 10, 1957 (UP) - Six dynamite blasts heavily damaged four Negro churches and the homes of two ministers early today. It was the worst flareup of racial violence in the South's bus integration movement. There were no injuries.

The city commission ordered bus service here suspended indefinitely.


The predawn blasts hit the homes of two leaders in the Negroes' long-fought drive against "Jim Crow" and wrecked churches that had been used for Negro rallies.

Despite the night of terror, Negro leaders here vowed to carry on their integration battle-"even in the face of death."

The Rev. Martin Luther King, leader of the Montgomery bus boycott, and the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, whose home and church were damaged, rushed back to Montgomery from Atlanta.

The explosions started a flurry of police activity. The FBI said it will investigate the bombings.

Gov. James E. Folsom and State Safety Director Bill Lyerly inspected the bombed buildings and then began conferring at the governor's mansion.

Folsom said the bombings were the "work of anarchists" and offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to conviction of the terrorists. He put state police "at the command of all local officials" in Alabama to combat racial terrorism.


"Any group of groups of persons that will stoop to bomb the house of worship endangers the lives of every man, woman, and child in this state," Folsom said.

Folsom has pledged to provide state help for any Alabama city requesting it in connection with the integration incidents.

One of the earlier explosions blew in the front of a home in which a Negro mother and her baby slept. The blast also shattered a plate glass window across the street.

While Negro neighbors and police milled about the damaged home of the frightened mother, a sixth explosion went off some distance away, wrecking the fourth church. This was about 6 o'clock this morning.

The blast blew in the front end of the rural Mount Olive Baptist Church, located outside the city limits but within city police jurisdiction.

An explosion at the Bell St. Baptist Church blasted out its back wall, splintered its altar and covered pews with debris. The rear ceiling sagged as though about to collapse.

Police said the dynamite was a type farmers obtain from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for about 15 or 20 cents per stick for blowing up stumps.

Another bomb damaged the home of the Rev. Robert Graetz, white minister of a Negro Lutheran church and a sympathizer of the Negro movement for a right to ride buses as equals of whites.


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