'Bombingham' by Anthony Grooms

Where were you in 1963?

Bombingham bookcoverJoin us at Cleveland Park on Saturday, May 11, 1:30-2:30 p.m., to discuss Bombingham. Reminisce if you're the right age, and hear first-hand what it was like to be there in 1963.

1963 was an extraordinary year in our history and many of us remember it vividly whether as participants or as avid followers of the news reporting.  There was no apathy; whatever your opinion, you were riveted. Much of the news in the United States was dominated by the actions of civil rights activists and those who opposed them. Our role in Vietnam was steadily growing, along with the costs of that involvement. Beatlemania began. President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin and delivered his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Push-button telephones were introduced; First Class postage cost 5 cents; and the population of the world was 3.2 billion, less than half of what it is today.  August saw the March on Washington; November, the assassination of President Kennedy.

Birmingham, Ala., was front and center in the news that year.  The Birmingham campaign, organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, brought to the forefront civil disobedience tactics and national recognition for leaders who became household words.  Among other events, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was jailed in April and the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed in September, killing four girls, aged 11 and 14,  and wounding others.

Anthony Grooms brings alive not just a year, but an era, through the memories of Walter Burke, watching his fellow soldiers die in Vietnam.  If we're old enough, when we read Bombingham, we are transported to that time in our lives; if not, we are brought to experience vicariously a period of seemingly far-off history.

This program is presented as part of the annual Live to Read citywide celebration of literature partnered by the DC Public Library and the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C.