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Every Place Is a Battleground

I was born nine years after four little girls were killed in Birmingham, Alabama, and two other boys later the same day. On that trip, Auntie Thelma took us to Kelly Ingram Park. We circumambulated around the path, where the marchers had gathered, where the hoses and dogs lashed out at children, right in front of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where the girls had died, across from the Civil Rights Institute, where the memories are held. The beating heart of Birmingham‘s freedom fighting.

The park is named after Osmond Kelly Ingram, a Navy man who was killed by Germans in World War I. He was the son of a Confederate veteran. Ingram senior devoted his life to keeping your ancestors bound to the evil of enslavement. That is not irony. That’s the texture of our history. Every place is a battle ground.

from Breathe: A Letter to My Sons (pp. 24-25)

About the Author

Imani Perry

Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where she also teaches in the Programs in Law and Public Affairs, and in Gender and Sexuality Studies....

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