"While the World Watched" by Carolyn Maull McKinstry

On September 15, 1963 a bomb planted by the Ku Klux Klan at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama exploded, killing four young girls. Only minutes earlier 15 year old Carolyn Maull had said spoken to those four girls and then walked away. For decades, Carolyn tried to put that day and the troubling days that followed behind her. But she no longer feels that she can stay silent about the tragedy and injustice she witnessed as a young girl growing up in the civil rights era.

While The World Watched is Carolyn Maull McKinstry's eye-witness account of what life was like for Black residents of Birmingham, Alabama when Jim Crow laws ruled the South. It is a moving description of how far Americans have come in terms of race relations, and how far they still need to go.

This is an incredible book that brings to life the civil rights movement of 1960's America. This book has a unique place in the writings of civil rights history as it comes straight from a young Black girl who was witness to one of its most tragic events. Carolyn Maull McKinstry has battled the prevailing notions of her day head on, struggled with its aftermath and emerged as a strong voice for those who fought and still fight for equality for all Americans.

Throughout the book, Maull McKinstry has included excerpts from famous speeches of the day in addition to her own words. She provides historical detail to compliment her own story, giving the book a wide scope on the civil rights movement.

This is a subject that I took great interest in while studying history in school and this book is a welcome addition to that information. It is incredible to read the story of a woman who was front and centre for a major moment in history. By reading her thoughts, concerns and triumphs, I believe the reader will be deeply touched and moved by the struggle that many lived through to bring us the world we live in today.

In addition to the historical information, this book is a touching journey of forgiveness. Carolyn Maull McKinstry shares her deepest feelings about the difficulty of forgiving those who have wronged you, especially in such heinous ways, but how doing so is what will ultimately free you.

I received this book for free as part of Tyndale's blogger program. The opinions expressed above are purely my own.


  1. Great review. We besides the forgiveness aspect of the book it is important that we can preserve as many first hand witness accounts as we can of such events.


  2. Great review. Definitely going to check this out the next time I am at the bookstore.

  3. I found you through the POC Challenge Link-Up. This sounds fascinating. The 1960s civil rights struggle is one of my favorite topics, but this is the first I'm hearing of this book. I look forward to checking it out.


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