Re "Ex-Klansman Convicted of 1963 Church Bombing," May 23:
Oh, how I wish more people could have been there. I was in Birmingham, Ala., last week, visiting my Los Angeles-born daughter, who moved to the South a few months ago. While there, I went to the Jefferson County Courthouse and sat in the back of the courtroom where a jury convicted Bobby Frank Cherry for his part in the bombing murder of four black girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church nearly 40 years ago.
I had already visited the historic church; seen its basement wall containing a tattered memorial of photos and articles. I had also been to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute just across the street, where the brutality of the bombing and other atrocities of that infamous era were chronicled in agonizingly vivid detail.
But there was nothing like seeing Cherry, one of the original perpetrators of such hate, in person, unrepentant and, to the end, still denying any involvement in that horrendous event.
I imagined what he must have once looked like hiding under his white sheet instead of in the simple gray suit he wore to court. It seemed to me, as I kept staring at him from the back of the courtroom, that he looked incredulous at the prospect that the Birmingham he once ruled from behind a trilogy of Ks had turned so completely against him.
And with nine whites and three blacks, this was no O.J. Simpson jury. People down here are quick to remind outsiders like me how much things have changed in the new South, and perhaps they're right. It's certainly time.