Raymond Tynes recently shared some stories and photos of a trip that holds very deep meaning for him.
© submitted photo
Raymond Tynes visited sites of historical significance for the civil rights movement when he was in Birmingham, Alabama. One of the sites was the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where four school girls died when it was bombed in 1963.
Saturday evening Tynes was at the Marigold Cultural Centre to share a bit about his September 2013 visit to Birmingham, Alabama for events marking the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement.
He was invited to Birmingham by the city’s chief of police AC Roper, who had visited Truro earlier in the year to speak at a Community Enhancement Association gathering.
“It was a year-long commemoration,” said Tynes. “The theme was to educate, commemorate and empower.”
During a seven-day visit he stopped by the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan on September 15, 1963. This resulted in the deaths of four girls and caused many people to become very active in the civil rights movement.
“I was amazed to see how far they’ve come and how seriously they take their civil rights,” said Tynes. “When I came back home it made me think about how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go. We’ve come a long way but there’s still a long way to go. It starts with us all as individuals.
“We have to re-evaluate our morals. Dr King wouldn’t be too happy if he saw how families have broken down and how people are screaming for change while some are not willing to change themselves or sit around waiting for others to do everything for them.
“We need to be proud of who we are, stop looking for handouts, don’t be too proud to accept a helping hand and become vocal leaders for righteousness.”
He listened to powerful speeches, walked the Civil Rights Trail from the Sixteenth Street Church to City Hall and addressed the Birmingham City Council (which was live streamed).
He also met celebrities during his trip, including the stars of one of his favourite television shows, The First 48.
“The hospitality there was great,” he added. “I never felt so safe and never wanted for anything. It was like everyone there knew who I was. Everyone was so friendly.
“Changes there have had a big effect on this area. As civil rights in Birmingham go, civil rights in the world go. I told them I call where I come from the Birmingham of the north.”