In 1961 the Alabama Council on Human Relations charged Rev. Jimerson with the critical task of improving communications and racial understanding between Alabama’s black and white communities, employing him to travel extensively throughout the state to coordinate the activities of Human Relations chapters across Alabama. Rev. Jimerson’s success as a community activist was due largely to his ability to gain the trust of both white moderates and key figures in the civil rights movement: Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Lucius Pitts, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, Rev. Andrew Young, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jimerson represents the hundreds of people who worked behind the scenes to help achieve the goals of civil rights activists.
After Klan members killed four young girls in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in September 1963, Rev. Jimerson preserved and kept several pieces of stained glass that had blown out of the church’s windows. His family later donated the glass to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, in memory of the many sacrifices made for racial equality. Similarly, Shattered Glass in Birmingham offers us a fresh and important perspective on these climactic events, supplying one of the many fragments that make up the complex story of our nation’s fight for civil liberties.
Randall C. Jimerson, professor of history and director of the Graduate Program in Archives and Records Management at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, is the author of The private Civil War: Popular Thought during the Sectional Conflict, and Archives Power: Memory, Accountability, and Social Justice.
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