The scars on my face tell me a story every day. A story of how a sweet 12-year old girl and her 14-year old sister Addie giggled as they walked to church on a Sunday morning. How they met their friends Cynthia, Carol and Carole before the service. How they heard a sound—BOOM—and four of them were dead.
It was 1963 and some men from the Ku Klux Klan had set a bomb at the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in the hope that it would kill Black people. It did. My sister and our three friends died. Doctors pulled 22 shards of glass from my face and debris from my eyes. They eventually had to remove my right eye.
I went from being an A student to a girl who struggled with my eyesight and with trauma. My dream was to become a nurse but because of the injuries I suffered I was never able to complete the education necessary to achieve that goal. I hid—from the scars and the pain and that moment, that terrible, terrible moment when everything I knew and held dear exploded. I mourned for my sister Addie, and Denise, who was 11, and for Carole and Carol, who were both 14. I was hospitalized in a segregated hospital.