History: Coltrane and King

Remembering the intensity of the struggle

Alabama – The Power of Jazz

On Sunday, September 15, 1963, twelve sticks of dynamite were placed in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bomb had been planted by the white supremacy group, the KKK, and killed four young black girls between the ages of 11-14.

John Coltrane wrote the song ‘Alabama’ in response to this event and patterned his playing in the song after Martin Luther King’s speech at the funeral for the four girls.

Coltrane also performed in eight benefit concerts for King in 1964 and recorded several other songs inspired by the civil rights movement called ‘Reverend King,’ ‘Backs Against the Wall’ and his album Cosmic Music dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr.

The back story to the bombing

Most people are aware of the church bombing in Birmingham that killed four children in 1963.

Missing from the story is why THIS particular church was targeted.

It’s a triumphant story but also sheds a light on the diabolical hatred that infected (and still infects) some Americans – including those who, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, promote divisiveness for their own gain and the many deluded people who think that putting signs on their lawns is social activism.


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