Monday, July 19, 2010

What Happened To Addie Mae Collins?

Many people assume that belief in the theft of black bodies is paranoia born of a violent racist history. But Jamie Gaines and Sarah Cox know from experience that black cadavers tend to disappear. In January 1998, the sisters frowned as they surveyed the crumbling headstones, trash, and tangled weeds strangling Greenwood, the Birmingham, Alabama, cemetery in which their family had long ago laid their sister, Addie Mae Collins. Although most Americans do not know her name, Addie Mae Collins is a national icon of sorts. The thirteen-year-old was a martyr of the civil rights movement, one of four girls who were murdered in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church a few days after the city’s schools were integrated. Martin Luther King Jr., eulogized her, and her tombstone bears the rousing inscription ‘She Died So Freedom Might Live.’

It was thirty years before her sisters could bear to visit her grave, and when they saw its neglected state, they immediately arranged to have Addie Mae moved to another, better maintained cemetery. However, workers who opened the grave recoiled in shock: It was empty devoid of casket and corpse. Addie Mae’s body, like so many buried in black cemeteries throughout the South, is missing. No one can know with certainty who took the body or why, but many are convinced that her body joined the untold thousands of anonymous black cadavers on anatomists’ tables.” -From, "Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to The Present" By: Harriet A. Washington

[SIDEBAR: This book is a MUST read! Please go out and get it. It has superb information in it! It should be required reading in all educational institutions.]


Anonymous said...

I feel sad for her family and what they had to go through. best regards.

Elsie Law said...

So do I! Many prayers go out to those who have endured so much. Thanks for the comment.

David Knox-Cincinnati said...

Why does life have to be so hard. On my way to Mississippi, I flew into in Birmingham and drove the rest of the way. My purpose in Birmingham was to visit Addie Mae Collins' grave as well as the other three girls who died with her. I place flowers on all their graves. Although Addie Mae Collins is not there, I will like to believe that her spirit lives in us all.

Elsie Law said...

Thanks for your comment. I also thank you for your effort to honor those who came before us and endured so much! Whenever someone like you performs such a noble and loving act, I believe the angels above smile and rejoice. All is not lost! Stay hopefully and filled with faith. Thanks again!