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The Morgan Project Hosts Conflict and Courage Workshop in Birmingham

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From left: Carolyn Maull McKinstry, Lisa McNair, Charles Morgan III. (Nicole Daniel, The Birmingham Times)

By Nicole S. Daniel

Birmingham Times

Dr. Martha Bouyer, minister, former classroom teacher and social studies supervisor for Jefferson County Schools, this week led a Conflict and Courage professional development workshop that includes a curriculum that teaches about Civil Rights history in Birmingham.

The workshop was hosted by The Morgan Project, a Birmingham-based social justice initiative and held in partnership with the Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens on the west side of Birmingham.

The curriculum was based on Charles Morgan Jr.’s 1964 book “A Time to Speak” and serves as a social studies guide for elementary, middle and high school students and provides resources for teachers to explore the history of race.

Dr. Martha Bouyer, minister, former classroom teacher and social studies supervisor for Jefferson County Schools. (Nicole Daniel, The Birmingham Times)

“The goal for today is to engage, educate and empower,” Bouyer said this week.

The training included a panel discussion led by Toby Richards, Director of Arlington Historic House, and included Charles Morgan III, who was born in Tuscaloosa, AL and moved to Birmingham in 1956 with his parents after his father graduated from law school.

Asked about the city when he was growing up in the 60’s, Morgan replied, “My grandmother worked at the Pizitz department store and Blacks could shop there, but they couldn’t use the restroom, try on shoes or clothes. There were colored restrooms and white restrooms. It was segregated schools and cemeteries.”

Morgan III said he “was totally proud of’ his father’s historic speech.

Charles Morgan Jr. is known for a speech he gave Sept. 16, 1963, the day after the church bombing that killed the girls.

Morgan, who was a white member of the civic group known as the Young Men’s Business Club (YMCB), stood before the group and lay the blame for the bombing at the feet of everyone in Birmingham who didn’t actively fight against hate.

“Four little girls were killed in Birmingham yesterday. A mad, remorseful worried community asks, ‘Who did it? Who threw that bomb? Was it a Negro or a white?’ The answer should be, ‘We all did it.’ Every last one of us is condemned for that crime and the bombing before it and a decade ago. We all did it,” Morgan said during his speech to the YMBC, founded as the Young Men’s Business Club but now includes all members.

While Morgan was run out of Birmingham to Atlanta for his words, he later established the southern office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and continued to have a distinguished law career. He died in 2009.

After this week’s panel discussion that included Lisa McNair, who sister died in the church bombing and Carolyn McKinstry, who survived the church bombing, attendees received signed copies of “A Time to Speak”, “Dear Denise: Letters to the Sister I Never Knew” by McNair and “While the World Watched” by McKinstry with Denise George.

For more on The Morgan Project visit here