Partial Transcript: Can you tell me what you remember about arrival in this city, and do you know what, if any, preconceived notions you had about Birmingham?
Segment Synopsis: Cross discusses what it was like moving to Birmingham and what her community was like.
Keywords: Richmond (Va.); Titusville (Al).
Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Birmingham (Ala.); Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (Birmingham, Ala.)
Partial Transcript: Can you tell me your first memory of, discussion of, the movement? And maybe Monday night meetings...
Segment Synopsis: Cross recalls what she remembers experiencing during the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.
Keywords: 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (Birmingham, Ala.)
Partial Transcript: Because she knew. And she said, 'Where's Lynn?' and we can't find Lynn.
Segment Synopsis: Cross recalls the immediate aftermath of the bombing and how Dr. King came to visit her father.
Keywords: Birmingham (Ala.); King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Subjects: 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963
Partial Transcript: Did life turn back to normal? Not for me, because the sound of that day still reverberated in my mind for about ten years.
Segment Synopsis: Cross recalls how after the bombing she spent her life living in fear.
Keywords: Post-traumatic stress disorder
Subjects: 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963; Birmingham (Ala.)
Partial Transcript: OK, well, he blamed himself for the bombing, and he was giving them all the information about, because he had testified about from the grand jury, and one of my neighbors brought my dad over to Birmingham for that.
Segment Synopsis: Cross discusses what life was like during the bombing trial.
Keywords: Blanton, Thomas; Ku Klux Klan
Subjects: 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963; Birmingham (Ala.)
Partial Transcript: Right, right, and I met Ms. Till, now I'm reminded that you should say that, when I came over on one of the tours, she was with John Lewis' group, and I come over here every year with Ms. Lowery's group.
Segment Synopsis: Cross recalls meeting Emmitt Till's mother.
Keywords: Reverend John Cross
Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Till, Emmett, 1941-1955
Partial Transcript: He had to, to show with his camera what ... four beautiful girls look like when they came out of the church.
Segment Synopsis: Cross discusses her father going through the rubble of the church after the bombing.
Keywords: Lee, Spike
Subjects: 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963; Birmingham (Ala.)
Partial Transcript: Can you tell me, if you remember, of if you remember your father talking about, the weeks and months after this happened.
Segment Synopsis: Cross recalls what it was like in the church after the bombing and how she testified in the trial.
Keywords: Birmingham-Southern College; Southern Poverty Law Center. Civil Rights Education Project
Subjects: Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (Birmingham, Ala.)
Partial Transcript: Uh, Michael, all I remember, and I don't know whether this is the type of effect he has, he used to always say when he got to be a teenager, that he never wanted to work for a white person.
Segment Synopsis: Cross recalls how her siblings behaved after the bombing and how they integrated Ramsey High School.
Keywords: Blacks--Segregation; Ramsey High School
Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Integration
Partial Transcript: Doug Jones, yeah. Yes, he came to my father's homegoing service. Him and Sidney Sheldon.
Segment Synopsis: Cross recalls how her father's health was in decline but he still made it to the conclusion of the trial.
Keywords: Blanton, Thomas; Jones, Doug
Subjects: Atlanta (Ga.); Birmingham (Ala.)
Partial Transcript: You know, people come here from all over the world every day and they are on a pilgrimage.
Segment Synopsis: Cross discusses how she enjoys that people travel to Birmingham to reflect on the past and to see how far the Movement has come.
Keywords: Angels of Change; Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.)
Subjects: Birmingham (Ala.); Sixteenth Street Baptist Church (Birmingham, Ala.)
ANDERSON: It should be recording. I'm not going to wear my microphone, becauseI'm not important.
CROSS: You're not being seen. Wait a minute, you're important, because this isyour job. You're very important to your institution. Which is very good, I'm honored.
ANDERSON: Well, we are honored to have you here today.
CROSS: Thank you --
ANDERSON: I want to thank you so much for making a trip, also, to do this. Todayis Monday, October 15, and the year is 2012. I'm Laura Anderson, and I work in the archives here at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and we're really proud to have you, Barbara Cross, join us for this oral history interview.
CROSS: Thank you. I'm honored to be here to share my history.
ANDERSON: Thanks. Yeah, I like to just have a conversation. If you could tellme, um, before we forget this detail, to give me your full date of birth and place?
CROSS: Sure. I'm Barbara Ann Cross. I was born on June 6, 1950, in Richmond,00:01:00Virginia, which is Henrico County.
ANDERSON: OK. Tell me about your childhood and youth, if you will.
CROSS: Growing up in Richmond, I remember being a happy little girl. I'm theoldest of, uh, four siblings; and I have a sister, Alma, who's two years, uh, younger than me; and then I have a sister, Onieta Lynn Cross -- we call her by her middle name, Lynn -- and she's the baby girl, she was born in 1958; and, my brother Michael Juvan Cross was born in 1957. Life for us in Virginia was real normal. We would always love to go visit my maternal grandmother, who lived in a rural area, Kilmonic, Virginia, during the summer months. I remember being in the Girl Scouts in Birmingham and camping. In 1962, when I was 12 years old, I 00:02:00was excited about moving to a new city, because I had never lived nowhere except for Richmond. My sister next to me, she had a problem, because she had close friends, and she didn't want to leave her friends. And, my father was called to pastor the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. And we arrived in Birmingham June, the summer of 1962. And, I was excited about meeting new friends, uh, going to a new school when the fall came, but little did I realize that Birmingham would be, turn into a nightmare for us, because I did not know about the demonstrations that were to come, or about Dr. King.
ANDERSON: Can you tell me what you remember about arrival in this city, and do00:03:00you know what, if any, preconceived notions you had about Birmingham?
CROSS: I had no preconceived notions, because my probably father probably triedto shield us about the type of racial crime that was here, so the only thing I knew was that I wanted to meet new friends, come to a new environment, and I was excited. And, we moved into a nice neighborhood, it was in the what they called the Titusville area. If you're familiar with Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, it's in that community, Goldwire Way, and that was the church parsonage. The, the home across the street, which was the previous minister before my dad got there, was Reverend Beard, and they lived in, that was the parsonage then, next to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which is now office space. So, the people at the church were so welcoming to us, my family -- and most ministers back in 00:04:00those days, they fed the pastor and his family -- so, we had great church members. So, I was happy so far as the neighborhood, meeting friends in the neighborhood, and school hadn't started yet, so my nightmare did not really start until the summer of 1963. But I was happy-go-lucky, like I said, based on our church family, the neighbors that I had developed new friendships in the neighborhood. But it was when, the summer of '63, is when we were aware of a lot of the demonstrations, and after going to school and hearing things. It's amazing when I think about TV today and now, most of the homes then only had about one or two TVs, and we didn't really watch the news much. I remember reading the newspapers about nuclear weapons, and missiles, the bay of Cu, missile crisis, and thinking about that, because in schools, we would have, 00:05:00instead of fire drills, we had to get in the hallway and put our head down between our legs because of the, uh, the -- I don't know what kind of drill they called it, but it was like because of nuclear weapons. So, but it was the summer of '63, and September, is when we were exposed to the violence that happened in Birmingham.
ANDERSON: Before we get to that, can you tell me a little bit about your homelife, and what your parents were like --
ANDERSON: and, um --
CROSS: By my dad being a pastor, he was away at the church a lot during,preparing his, his sermons on Sunday, and I had a close friend in the neighborhood -- and actually went to college together later -- but, and she 00:06:00liked to play bid Whist cards, and we had some other neighbors behind us, they used to have parties -- what they call waistline parties, and whatever your waistline was, you paid to get into the garage -- so we enjoyed that type of things. And, I liked going to the library on Saturday, we would buy these little "fizzies" and put it in water, and we would drink and read our books, and I was like happy as a lark. And also we enjoyed going back to visit our grandmother in the summer. So, the summer of '63, we would go back to Virginia, but because of the hotels were segregated, we either had to drive a long way before we got to Kilmonic, Virginia. We were afraid to go through, I was afraid when my dad went through Mississippi, but I think he went to Mississippi when we visit my paternal grandmother. I didn't meet my grandmother on my father's side 'til I 00:07:00was 25, so I had my cousins to visit from Arkansas, because we were always closer to my mom's side of the family, because we lived in Virginia. So my dad would go visit his family, but I didn't meet her until we moved to Alabama, so that was interesting to become closer to my, uh, dad's side of the family, my cousins, so it was a new set of family. And my grandmother lived to be at least 102. And she died probably in the -- middle '90s. But my mother's, got to, mother got a chance to visit us in the summer -- or was it one Easter in '63. And we have a picture of her in the church, and that was before the church was bombed. But, I have a lot of good memories prior to September the 15th, 1963.
ANDERSON: Now your father was from Arkansas?00:08:00
CROSS: Yeah, he was born in Haynes, Arkansas. But how he got to Virginia,because he was in service, and then he went to school at Rich, Virginia Union -- I don't know whether it's College or University, but it's University now. In fact, the Atlanta alumni chapter is named after my father.
CROSS: But it's ironic -- my mother had, has a twin brother, he's still living,my mother is deceased -- and, usually when you preach at a rural church, it's not many restaurants in the area, so my uncle, which is my mom's twin brother, invited him to dinner after the church service. And the rest is history. They said they were winking at each other across the dinner table. And they married, and we moved to Richmond, and my dad, uh, we lived in Richmond, I was born in 1950, so we, I was there in Richmond from 1950 to our move to Birmingham in 1962. 00:09:00
ANDERSON: If you'll excuse me one second.
CROSS: OK. -- will I be able to see what I did? I know I can't have a copy ofit, but --
ANDERSON: You can have a copy of it.
CROSS: I can have a copy of it?
ANDERSON: But of course.
CROSS: Oh, get out of here, thank you!
ANDERSON: Of course.
CROSS: I know when my dad did, are you familiar with the lady in Chicago, thathas a --
ANDERSON: The History Makers? Mmm hmm.
CROSS: He did that the year before he died, at home, and I have not even lookedat the DVD yet, because, I was there with him. But, we used that picture, that suit he had on, the picture they had, we used that part of his obituary service.
ANDERSON: Oh, OK.
CROSS: Uh, huh. It's on his program. And it was so funny, because my dad, a lotof things he couldn't remember, and I was there to kind of coax him. They said, 'let him talk about it,' cause they asked him what his favorite food was, or his 00:10:00favorite color, and I don't ever remember him having a favorite color, but I guess they wanted him, to see him in his natural, whatever he could remember.
ANDERSON: Mmm hmm.
CROSS: And it was real interesting, did it in in the home, and that's the firsttime I had really seen or, oral history presentation being done, and I was there to guide him.
CROSS: And be there part of it with him.
ANDERSON: Well of course, um, we might take for granted that your family'sexperience here in Birmingham, uh, maybe, became so much a part of your family's story that you would have to live with it every day afterward, um. But I guess if you're ready to tell that story, we can do that --
CROSS: Oh, I'm ready --
ANDERSON: I love getting ideas about what life was like for your family before00:11:00that happened.
ANDERSON: Umm, just what everyday life was like, and --
CROSS: And it was normal. My younger sister, uh, stayed at home. My mom didn'twork outside of the home, to my knowledge. I know before probably she married my dad she was an educator, but I think she was a homemaker, because he had several jobs, in, -- before he got to Birmingham, because ministers back then probably didn't make much -- he was in a rural part of the Richmond area, it's called Chesterfield County. And, I was looking at what he had said before, that they wanted him to be full-time and don't do anything else, and he said, 'But I'm not getting full-time pay, I'm part-time.' So, back then they got part-time pay for full-time service, and he had to be, I think, to help a heart surgeon to do the pump and stuff like that. Well, here, this was his full-time job at Sixteenth Street, so my mom might have been more of aware of things that were going on 00:12:00about the movement.
And, my day to day activities, when the summer, was just making friends in theneighborhood, active in youth programs at the church, because Sixteenth Street, we used to go to -- I think it's called Leeds, Alabama -- so, it was an amusement park, so I don't know whether it was just for blacks, but we had a good time when we went to Leeds, Alabama. So there was a lot of things that we were sheltered from, and so we felt happy. Prior to '63. So, it was like, life is good for me. But my sister next to me, I think she was still moaning the friendship that she left behind. In fact, as a little girl, I remembered hearing things, you know how we listen in on adult conversations, not sure what we're gonna listen to? 00:13:00
Well, I remember my mama, my mama said she had something in, growing in herstomach, and I was like, oh she has a baby in her stomach? But then I found out she had developed an ulcer, because she really did not want to move, she had to drink special water and stuff, but I was like, happy-go-lucky. So, she was the one that eventually met a close friend in Birmingham, and it was the daughter of Reverend Nelson Smith. In fact, Ms. Smith just passed, I think, a couple of weeks ago. And his church was in our neighborhood, it was Sixth Avenue on one side, and -- New Pilgrim on the opposite end.
CROSS: But at the time we were living there, it was built in the neighborhood Ithink some years later, after we left. And, so, Alma had a friendship and my brother had a neighbor friend, so we were happy kids. Because we did not know about the movement that was getting ready, things that were taking place, that we were not aware of.
ANDERSON: Can you tell me your first memory of, discussion of, the movement? And00:14:00maybe Monday night meetings --
CROSS: That part I didn't know until later, but I, I was aware that we couldn'tgo to certain theaters in Birmingham, they were segregated, but we could go to a movie. But I think it was maybe -- the spring of 1963, when Dr. King actually came to Birmingham. And, I think looking at it on the news, or hearing people talk about it in school, so it's ironic we were nave to that. You want me to fast-forward to Birming--that Sunday yet?, because basically I didn't know anything about all that until after all this happened.
ANDERSON: Hmm. Hmm. Yeah, sure, you need, all you can do is tell your own story --
ANDERSON: That's what we want to know --
ANDERSON: I just wondered what your first --
ANDERSON: memory was of hearing about the movement.00:15:00
CROSS: All I remember is that, on that Sunday, September the 15th, 1963, orprior to that Sunday, we had practice because we were going to sing in, I always sang in the choir or ushered for the Youth Day. But that particular Sunday was the first Sunday that my dad had instituted as Youth Sunday, so far as being on a program. But we always had youth ushers or we would sing in the choir, youth choir, and they had an orchestra. In fact, Mr. Jimmy Lowe, who was the orchestra -- I think his son, after he, Mr. Lowe passed, his son directed the orchestra. But that day it was exciting because we were going to be a part of the program, actually somebody was going to read the scripture or say a prayer or do an offertory prayer.
And I'll never forget my mother didn't go to church that Sunday, she was athome, but all of my siblings and my dad, so we would get to church probably a little before 9:30 because my dad probably had to open up. And, I remember him 00:16:00saying he usually parks on the side of the church -- what's that? is that the Sixteenth Street side? yes -- but that particular Sunday, he didn't park there, I done forgot where he said he parked. But, I remember that lesson so vividly, we were talking about forgiving your enemies. And, Mrs. Ella Deman was my teacher. I was 13, and we had discussed if somebody does something to you, whether steal your lunch or hit you, we're gonna use the type of agape love that you forgive somebody who does something to you.
So I remember we shared about different things that happened to us, cause backthen we didn't say kids bullied like they do today, we just knew they fought or they were, treated you mean; I don't remember the term bully until today. So, after the lesson was discussed, there's a bell that rings for reassembly, 00:17:00probably about ten o'clock. I do remember I used to play the piano at the church, but I don't think I, for Sunday School, but I don't think I started playing until I was like 15, because we stayed in Birmingham until 1968 -- six years. So, I do remember, I was getting ready to get up, and go to the bathroom, cause my friend Addie had come by the classroom. And my teacher stopped me and gave me a clerical assignment.
And my assignment, I remember she told me to write down the names of those whowould be moving up in Sunday School, like we move up in grade school, fall of the year, excuse me, we move up in Sunday School. So I gave Addie my wallet and said, 'I'll see you in a little while.' I remember getting back to the writing, 00:18:00and it seems like it was just a short spans of time -- before I saw her -- and the most horrific noise I've ever heard in my life, and it seemed like the building was rocking off its foundation. And I remember something hit me in my head and I started screaming, and it just seemed like everything went dark and all you could hear was screams from the kids, because the basement area is where all the children's classes were. And, I just remember people were screaming, it was like almost a stampede. And I was looking for my younger sister and I never did see her. And I remember one of my church members, Mr. Hill, he was trying to 00:19:00-- cause I guess he knew my dad was the pastor, and he was, had to see what was going on -- and I found the sister next to me and my brother, but we still couldn't find my baby sister, she was four.
So Mr. Hill took us out the front of the church, which is the Sixth Avenue side,and he was trying to keep us from going to the side of the building, because I didn't realize that's where all the policemen were, and that's where all the devastation was. So I remembered, I said, 'We can't find my sister.' He said, 'Well, we're gonna take you home.' So it was Alma, and my brother Michael, and my mom was waiting at the door, because back hen they didn't have call waiting. We lived approximately twenty -- well, in the Titusville area, which is Goldwire, where Elmwood Cemetery is, you think that's about 25 miles? From the church? 00:20:00
ANDERSON: You mean blocks?
CROSS: 25 miles from the church or maybe 10 or 15 miles?
ANDERSON: Oh, no, no, no. It's not anywhere near that far.
CROSS: OK. Well, my mother heard the noise in our neighborhood, and she saidimmediately --
ANDERSON: Oh, I'm sure she did.
CROSS: Because she knew. And she said, 'Where's Lynn?' and we can't find Lynn.And later we found out, some hours later, that she had gone to the hospital with the other 20-something injuries. And when my dad came home, some hours later, but all we knew is the phone kept ringing and ringing, and we didn't have call waiting then, and it was news reporters calling and, we, my mom put me on the phone, and I talked to one reporter and I just told them what I remember experiencing.
And then her brother, her twin brother, made an emergency call, because my mom's00:21:00family and my dad's family, they saw the interruption, and they were trying to hope my grandmother didn't hear it so she'd have a heart attack. All they heard was says, 'The program has been interrupted because the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed.' And I don't think they heard about the deaths immediately, but when they did hear about four girls were killed, my uncle -- my brother, we kinda laughed about it later -- he said, he probably said some curse words to the operator, he said, 'My sister and her family are in trouble, a church has been bombed, and I want to be sure everybody's OK.' So, they put an emergency call through -- Laura, can I get a tissue? OK.
ANDERSON: Of course.
CROSS: I think I have a, something in here.
ANDERSON: I can go get some if you don't.
CROSS: Let's see.
ANDERSON: There should be a box in here.
CROSS: I got it. Thank you. OK. So, uh, they inter, they interrupted the00:22:00broadcast, and the operator got him through, and he heard -- we couldn't tell him about my sister, because we didn't know -- we just said, mama said Alma's here, Barbara's here, Michael, we don't know where Lynn is. And then when my dad came home, he had her, uh, but like I said this is hours later. But how I found out my friends had died, Laura, he had the program, the original program, and on the back -- let's say maybe this was six o'clock when he got home, I don't know, five o'clock, time was like, didn't mean anything to me back then -- it had deaths. It had my friend Addie's name on there, 14, and the funeral home she was at. It had Cynthia's name on there, Carole, and Denise. And I was overwhelmed, 00:23:00so, the phone kept ringing and it looked like it never stopped ringing, so we stayed -- so when my sister, younger sister, came home we were so glad to see her.
And my mother found out later that when the doctors saw all these people comingin with blood and the sheets pulled, with the sheets covered, over the gurneys, like where are all these people coming from?, and they said the doctor broke down and cried 'cause my sister, he asked her how old she was and she just did that [shows four fingers], and blood was streaming on her clothes [points down face]. But thank God she wasn't severely injured. So we were happy to see her, but when I saw the word deaths, I lost it. And I had probably forgotten I had 00:24:00given Addie my purse, and, uh, that's the first time I had ever lost a friend. And, uh, we spent the night over a neighbor's house. And I do remember going to school the next day, and the elementary teacher, they knew my father, and, uh, they said, 'Are you going to be OK?' and, I think we were glad to go to school to get away from all of the, uh, chaos.
And, uh, I'll never forget, though, the next day, it's probably when I got outof school, I'll never forget this as long as I live, the doorbell rang, and I answered the door, and it was Dr. King, Martin Luther King, his brother A.D. Williams King, and, uh, Dick Gregory, and was one other minister, let's see, 00:25:00Ralph Abernathy. And I'll never forget, because they had those doors that open like this [swinging gate motion towards herself] back in the day, and I remember I shook his hand. And people always say, 'Did you say anything to him?' and I said well, I knew it was too sad to say anything to him, I knew he came for business to see my dad and then I realized they were going to go pay tribute, visit the families of the girls.
I do remember my dad visiting -- I think it was that, before they got there, oreither another day -- Mrs. McNair. And I'll never forget this as long as I live, because that was her only child, and she was at her mother's home, and she was sitting like she was in a state of shock -- and she was at Ms. Pippen's, her mother's home -- and they were trying to get her to eat, and I remember hugging her, I didn't know what to say, and I know my dad was paying his, visiting the 00:26:00families, I just remember going over to the McNair's, uh, her mother's house, and it was like she was in a daze, uh. I remember they had two separate funerals, I went to Carole's that Tuesday, seemed like it was so soon, and then the next one, that Wednesday, the three. I remember, I think my dad took me, but I was in a room like, not on the main floor, but it was just throngs of people. And I just remember looking like I was in a daze, with all these people, and I couldn't be near my friend's casket. I learned later that Denise had a viewing, but no one else had a viewing, and, uh, I found that out through the Spike Lee documentary. But it was like, I remember Ms. McNair fainting at the cemetery. 00:27:00
Now that part I don't remember how I, would, 'cause I couldn't go to -- therewere two different cemeteries, so I couldn't remember -- but I remember going to Denise's burial, and I don't know how my dad did that -- you know how some things are vague in your mind? -- that part, but I know that Carole, Denise -- I mean Cynthia, Denise, and Addie -- had the same, um, funeral. And -- that was the saddest day of my life. The bombing, saying goodbye -- not really saying goodbye to my friends, it's just -- I can almost see why Ms. Robinson didn't want to have a mass funeral, because it was just like, it was just so many people, but I guess people wanted to say goodbye to four beautiful girls. Did 00:28:00life turn back to normal? Not for me, because the sound of that day still reverberated in my mind for about 10 years. And when I went off to college I said I'm not going to think about it, I'm going to forget it, I'm going to put it behind me.
About two or three days, a week after the bombing, there was a loud noise at ourhome. My heart start beating fast and I remember shooting out the house like a rocket, only to discover that nobody in my house followed me outside. Then I found out later my sister had fallen out of bed. So that's how nervous I was, my heart was pounding. Also, I had a neighbor across the street that worked in a nightclub, and he had a walkie-talkie -- I can't remember was that before the church bombing or after the bombing -- and, he said he heard, say, 'Get that 00:29:00nigger Cross next.' So I think it was before the bombing, because Birmingham was really -- that was after, it might have been before Dr. King's 'I Have a Dream' speech -- and anybody that was associated with Dr. King, like A.D. Williams King, his brother's home, was bombed, the A.G. Gaston hotel was bombed, and then, I noticed, I'm noticing, a little before the bombing, they had Dynamite Hill, where they found dynamite on the streets.
So, I lived in fear in Birmingham, because of, not that my dad told me, but welearned from the neighbors they were out front of the house with rifles. And, so, my mom always said they think the reason they didn't bomb out home is 00:30:00because we lived on a dead-end street, and it would have been hard for them to throw the dynamite or plant the dynamite with all our neighbors in there. We did realize we had an informant, black guy who was an informant in our neighborhood, who lived across the street, and they were saying that he informed a lot of the people about the activities of my dad, and Dr. King with the church. And, uh, he was a alcoholic -- this is adult, hearing adults say so things, so my father would never tell me that -- but I believed it because when you start reading articles, there were people who informed and got paid to infiltrate where Dr. King would be.
And, I always believed because my father, later understood, because my fatherallowed Dr. King to use the church, or anybody associated with Dr. King, later 00:31:00learned that's why we would be in harm's way. I'll never forget, though, some years later I heard my dad do an interview in our church in Birmingham, in Atlanta, 'cause he had had a stroke, and that's when they had reopened the investigation, of 2001 and 2002, for -- I forgot the guy's name, but in -- Bobby Frank Cherry in 2002, I testified in that trial -- and, in 2001, I don't know why I can't ever call that man's name, but -- Thomas Blanton.
ANDERSON: It was Blanton, OK, yeah. I'm sorry, I --
CROSS: OK, well, he blamed himself for the bombing, and he was giving them allthe information about, 'cause he had testified about from the grand jury, and one of my neighbors brought my dad over to Birmingham for that. So, I told him 00:32:00after the interview, 'Dad, I love you, and you were courageous to let Dr. King use the church, because if not your church, any church would have been bombed. Dr. King tried to make a difference, and you were courageous.' So, Birmingham, I know was supposed to have been integrated the spring of '64, the downtown district -- I know we could try on clothes and go there, but it's just that at the time that the church was bombed, after Dr. King's speech, I would have never thought that would happen. And, I guess I thought everything was kinda settled in Birmingham, but I think the Ku Klux Klan is, what I read, they were angry because the schools were going to be integrated.
So, I don't know why they chose to bomb the church -- I believe it was because00:33:00Dr. King, and my dad allowed him to use the church. When you look at, back at the trials, they said they didn't know anybody was going to be in there, but they, they have the sign out there and knew that. So, I did go to that trial, 14 years later, living in Atlanta, I was upset that it took so long. I don't hate the bombers, because I believe if you're taught racism, and, uh, superior race, you're taught hatred -- I wasn't taught hatred, I didn't grow up in that type of environment -- I really feel sorry for them, because they didn't get a chance to know Cynthia Wesley, to know Addie, to know Carole, or their family. They weren't out in the streets throwing rocks or cursing nobody out. They were in a place of safety. Uh, one of my favorite sayings which is that on that plaque in 00:34:00the church, it say -- and that was put there before they even know who did that bombing -- it says, 'May men learn to replace bitterness and hatred with love and understanding.'
So my message is, what we learned that Sunday about a love that forgives. Iwasn't taught to hate. I did want to trip up, uh, Robert Chambliss in the courtroom, when I saw him in the hallway, because he seemed like he was so happy. I wish I could have asked him -- I don't think back them I would have been that bold to ask him -- 'cause he always said he didn't do it -- 'Why would you plant dynamite on a church, knowing that kids would be there?' I can't, I 00:35:00wish I knew. Uh, when I went to the 2001 trial, came back here for that, Thomas Blanton, what infuriated me was they could walk through the courts, no shackles -- I think when they convicted him, he had to walk out with, with the handcuffs. And then with Bobby Frank Cherry, he looked like a little old deacon man who lived his life, and I testified in that one, 'cause a lot of the older people were gone. So, uh, the best thing that I think that came out of the bombing, if I had to look for a glimmer of light and a rainbow that is in that window over there, it's that in 1964, I like to think that Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the 00:36:00Civil Rights Bill that we could go to public accommodations like the hotels, and anywhere we wanted to go if we had money to spend -- it was a start.
And I like to think, not only those other two little boys that got killed thatSunday, or Cynthia, Denise, Addie, or Carole, and that document they show over there, I think they're angels of change. So, that gives me hope that -- one day, people can sit down and have differences, whether you're a black, white, Hispanic, non-denomination, gay, lesbian, whatever, that we can agree to 00:37:00disagree, that we might not like you, but when you act on your hate, to take out a life, I hope that they remember what happened over there, and see those beautiful pictures on the inside, that they can rethink. And, so, sometimes we can't explain what make people do things, and they said, people who, 'hurt people hurt people,' so, I don't know whether they were hurt, I wish I could get into their minds, I don't know, but I have no hate for them. But I miss my friends, but I like to think that, angels of change. If I have to get something to smile about, that they're no longer here to suffer the injustices of this world, but they were a cat, their death was a catalyst to make a change in the Civil Rights Movement.
That's what I like to see it as. Uh, when we left here in '68, my dad was called00:38:00into, uh, to Alabama State University, where he worked in, I think the Baptist Student Union and taught sociology. And then, when he went to Atlanta, in '72, he, it was interesting, he -- it was interesting -- he was called to be -- an associate minister of a church, and they had a Canadian pastor. It was a transitional area, where the whites had moved out, but this particular pastor and the church, those who remained in the church, that we're not going to leave this community. Someone asked my dad once, or asked me, 'Your dad left the movement.' And I said this at his homecoming, going service, 'He opened up the doors, he was not marching the streets, but God called him into a 00:39:00reconciliation-type ministry.' And I think what happened in that church, he was trained to work with pastors of all colors, all denominations. And he got this award in Atlanta called the Fred Patterson Award, because of his activism in the community among blacks and whites. And, what better person that that would happen to, a person who, a church was bombed, he had no animosity, but to bring churches together.
And I said that at his homegoing, and I told them about this hymn that describedmy dad's life, 'In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north, but one great fellowship of love throughout this whole wide world; join brothers, join hands dear brothers of the faith, whatever your race may be, who serves the somethings da da da,' but it was, it describes my father. And so, when they told me that, I'm like, 'He didn't leave the movement,' and then I 00:40:00thought about, well, all of us are called to different drummers, his was working with churches of interfaith of different colors, to, to whatever our differences. And I think that was more of a healing ministers. I think there are some people who can march the streets, there's some people in the suites making a difference, but his was in the churches with the different denominations. And I thank God that I got a chance to see my dad do that. And, uh, there were articles written about him, he got calls, I mean calls to preach at different churches, of different races, because of what he went through over there.
Now when I went to college, in '68, I went to Tuskegee, I did not talk about thebombing, it was like, 'Yeah, I'm getting away from Alabama, I don't want to remember that.' And it was only if people knew who my dad was they wanted to talk about it. And I started having headaches in Tuskegee, and I had squashed 00:41:00the memory, and then only to find out I was having anxiety attacks, because I had never really gotten over the bombing; I was still hearing noises. And my hands were shaking; when people asked me why I trembled, I just said, 'I'm nervous.' So I had squashed all the memories, and it was like, 'I'm free, I'm in college, I can do this, do this, do this, forget Bombingham.' And I'll never forget, when somebody had me do a presentation at our church academy, I think it was in the '90s, and -- I thought I was ready to talk about it, I broke down like it was yesterday. Because I had forgotten it and didn't want to talk about it. So now, I still cry, and it's 50 years, almost. I don't know why I still cry.
But I guess that -- day was so painful. And, I used to apologize for my tears,and somebody said, 'No, you, they need to still see it hurts.' And I look at the 00:42:00church -- I don't know, but -- I must remember, I said, like the Jews keep the Holocaust alive, I have keep the memories of my girls, my friends alive, because they're no longer here. And when I'm working with the SCLC women, when we do voter registration, and we did this on Auburn Avenue -- it's a large street festival in Atlanta -- we register people to vote. We can't tell them who to vote for, because that's a nonprofit organization. And one lady told me she doesn't vote -- and I, and she's a black lady -- and I said, 'Can I ask you,' she said 'I don't vote,' I said, 'Can I give you some reasons why you should vote?' And she said she'd listen to me, she looked like she might have been 50 years old or, 40-ish, it's hard to tell, I said, 'Vote for Dr. King, his voice 00:43:00is silenced. Medgar Evers.' That's, I called the roll, I said, 'I'm a survivor of a terroristic attack.' I said, 'I didn't say that when I was growing up, but as somebody interviewed me in Atlanta said I witnessed a terror.' I didn't think of it like that. I said, 'I lost four beautiful friends.
They were in a place of safety. Vote for Addie Mae Collins, who was 14. Vote forCynthia Wesley, 14, her voice was silenced. Vote for Denise McNair, an only child, who was 11. And Carole Robinson, 14, or Addie Mae Collins.' And she said, she listened, she said, 'I'll think about it.' But I try to remind people why 00:44:00they should vote, because in 1965 they signed the Voting Rights Bill. Your voice is your vote. There were people whose lives were taken because they didn't want them to have the rights of freedom to vote, or go into certain places, because of hatred. You have that voice. And, so, I'm constantly, uh, getting a chance to speak to groups about my experience. When I took care of my dad, in when he, when my mom died suddenly in 2003, because we knew -- Can I just go get another tissue? OK, I don't know that I have any more in there.
ANDERSON: We can stop if you need to.
CROSS: OK, I just need to get another tissue. OK, thank you.
ANDERSON: No, we don't have to stop. And if you need me to go get you some, Iwill, 'cause like I said. I should have brought a whole box for both of us. 00:45:00
CROSS: Guess you didn't know you would have a crybaby here.
CROSS: OK, OK. Thank you.
ANDERSON: You're welcome.
CROSS: Uh, when I was taking care of my dad in 2000 and, he died 2007, there wasa call in 2006 from Clemson University. And this lady, black lady, she was, she left a message, she wanted to speak to my dad, and I called her back and she wanted him to speak, and I said, 'I'm his daughter Barbara, my dad's caregiver, uh, he had a stroke and, I uh, when my mom died I moved in to be his caregiver, 2004.' And she said, 'Well--' I said, 'But I do speaking engagements.' So she said, 'Can you send me your bio.' I said, 'Sure, I was a survivor, I was in the church that day.' So she asked me how much to charge. I told her. She said, 'We can do way better than that.' But she gave me a nice amount. They came picked me 00:46:00up, but the, the Alphas put on a -- since Dr. King was an Alpha, in the Alpha fraternity, they had a, and this was the 25th anniversary, of the, the holiday celebration.
And the theme was, uh, 'Live the Dream, Be the Dream, 25 Years of Excellence.'And I went through the ABCs of the movement, and -- talked about the experience in Birmingham, about the life of Dr. King, about how met him, and his drum major instinct. But I keep the memory of my friends alive, and I'm sure I cried then, too. When Spike Lee did the documentary, now that was really an honor. We got a call in Atlanta in the late 1990s, and -- I wanted to meet Spike Lee, so I said, 'Daddy,' -- cause I think we had taken my father's car keys from him -- 'I'll drive you down to the King Center.' So, I shared with him what I shared with 00:47:00you, and he said, 'Do you want to be in the documentary with your dad?' And I said, 'I would feel honored to.'
So, we had lunch with him. He had his film crew, 'cause I thought he was justgoing to be interviewing, I didn't know he was going to be rolling tape. And, you know, some parts they cut out, and -- But when he put the piece together, and they came, we came, I came to Atlanta for the premiere, was at, I think was at one of the -- movie theaters downtown, they had a reception at the High Museum. But when I saw the documentary in its entirety, oh, I cried, because I didn't know I was going to see the morgue scenes, and that -- And I looked at it again last night, it was, I try to make myself sometime look at it to go back over in my mind, be, re, be reminded, of those pictures that I never forget. But 00:48:00I'm glad he showed the morgue scenes, because he had to show -- what four little girls look like in life prior to September the 15th, and then the morgue scene to show the severity of what hatred looks like. So I'm glad he did that. It was hard to look at, but he had to show the reality of it. And, just like when men go to war sometimes -- I think Bush didn't want to show the caskets coming back -- but we have to be reminded--
ANDERSON: It's the same thing.
CROSS: And it happened.
ANDERSON: And Ms. Till, showing--
CROSS: Right, right, and I met Ms. Till, now I'm reminded that you should saythat, when I came over on one of the tours, she was with John Lewis' group, and I come over here every year with Ms. Lowery's group. And, she was in a wheelchair, somebody, I didn't know it was her, somebody said, 'That's Emmitt Till's mother,' and I went up to her, cause she was at the corner where that, 00:49:00the uh, that -- signage is, with the church, and somebody was taking her picture, and I said, 'Ms. Till, I'm Barbara Cross, I am so honored to meet you, this was the church my father pastored at the time of the bombing, I'm Reverend John Cross's daughter Barbara.' And she, her daughter took a picture -- I wish I had that picture -- and I said, 'Thank you for what you did by letting the world see what hatred did to your son.
You were courageous, and it's still shown out there.' I said, 'Cause sometimeswe try to cover up hatred, but when you see it in the raw, and what it looks like, hopefully someone would get the message, I don't want this to happen to my child, I don't want this to happen to my sister and brother.' So I really did, and that does remind you of what Spike Lee did there. He had to, to show with his camera what -- four beautiful girls look like when they came out the church. 00:50:00So I've been blessed to really share messages as a substitute teacher for Dekalb County, cause I retired BellSouth to take care of my dad, I'm so glad I did that, to spend -- I was a mama's girl, so my dad, I got a chance to get closer to him -- and, his, to take care of him, because I don't know what it was like for my dad -- to go through that rubble. And, in many interviews, he says he has nightmares. I cry, because I remember him saying in an interview or somewhere else that he started going through that rubble -- they said, 'Oh, Reverend Cross, don't go through there.' -- but they say a lot of times when dynamite goes off, they set one charge for everybody to come out, and then they set another charge, that when you're out there, you think it's safe, and it goes off again.
He said, 'Oh, no.' He said, 'My children are in here, all these kids are in00:51:00here, I gotta be sure everybody's OK.' And he heard somebody saying 'Addie. Addie with Sarah.' And I was the only survivor over there. And, uh, he said when he got a few feet under, it's like they were all blown on top of each other. And he never did describe that too us, it's just what I heard, I wouldn't dare ask him, but I heard him tell somebody interview he still has nightmares. And, I told you I heard him say he blamed himself, and I said, 'Oh, no, daddy,' I kissed him, I said, 'You were courageous.' So, Birmingham, even though I know they're trying to change the image with the Birmingham Pledge, cause I came back one year to accept an award for my dad from the Birmingham Pledge -- Jim Roch, does he still have that? -- OK.
That's the only thing I can see, maybe because I don't live here, the positivespin they're trying to put, no place for hatred. And I think, because of what 00:52:00happened over there, they're trying to change that image. But someone once said, I don't know whether it was Dr. King, that you could pass laws, but you can't legislate people's hearts. So, hopefully, I know people, a lot of people are always coming over to the church, I just hope that people will remember that -- even that day that church was became their tomb -- that, I like to think it was a catalyst for change, for people's hearts becoming changed, and realize that -- it's something about a death of a child, of innocence, that will change a person's heart before an older black man or older black woman. Because people can relate to children, a innocence, I don't think it would have been a change 00:53:00if it had been men or women. I don't think so. I think hearts were changed because they were little babies. That life hadn't begun.
ANDERSON: Can you tell me, if you remember, or if you remember your fathertalking about, the weeks and months after this happened. You mentioned that the phone just was ringing off the hook at the home. What was it like at the church?
CROSS: What happened, they couldn't meet anymore at the church, because they hada architect to come in, and I remember we would meet at Dr. -- A.G. Gaston's, he had several funeral homes, but we used his business college auditorium at no charge, I found that out later. And, my dad had, they said, uh, they had several 00:54:00-- donations from all around the world. And that window, I remember -- that's, I think that's the summer we visited my grandmother, my maternal grandmother in rural Virginia -- that Mr. Petts or Pitts, I forgot which last name is that designed the window -- he came and talked with my dad, and that's how he got ideas to do the window. And it's supposed to be representing, I remember my dad telling me the plan -- and I remember the dedication of that window, it was on my birthday, June 6, 1965, now we still have that program -- but it's supposed to represent a black man, suffering on a cross like Jesus, with one hand like this saying 'Stop the violence,' and this other hand reaching out for forgiveness and love.
And then there's some little, little dots, like little lines, look like littleminus signs going all the way across the middle, and that's supposed to be like, 00:55:00the black man being crucified with the dots at his side like the black man in the South. And, at the bottom, and it's a beautiful rainbow over top of the black man's head, and it's supposed to be like, a better day is going to come. A sunshine will come from all of this pain. And at the bottom of the window is a plaque or the little -- part of the ceiling -- I don't know what you call it, a little shelf-like thing of the window, or the bottom -- but, not on the window but away from the window, that has in memory of, and the girls' names. And, if the sun is hitting that window, I don't know whether you've seen it on the inside, it's just beautiful, it's just like wow, but if it's dark at night you can't see the beauty of that window. And I think it was shipped here in panels.
But he talked with my dad for the, that summer. So it was dedicated '65, so they00:56:00must have shipped it the early part of '65, but I know they dedicated it in '65, June the 6th, because I have that program. But, uh, we met -- at L.R. Hall Auditorium, that was generously donated. But my parents, I'll never forget, when my father would go on speaking -- I learned this through articles I've seen sometime later, because a lot of time he didn't tell us, he told my mom, but he didn't tell us -- he would go and receive donations on behalf of the church and speak. Ah, but one that was really -- and I remember my mom talking about this one -- when Mrs. McNair went, my dad, and my mom -- I can't remember whether Mr. McNair went -- and, it has them on a plane, they're, I don't know whether they're leaving California, but my mother said, the, the pla, picture on the 00:57:00plaque that she has, that there was a artist that gave her a oil painting -- and I'm sure that's in the studio, his, their studio, used to be in the house, probably in his studio -- and they said wasn't a dry eye -- in the place -- for them.
And that was the, I'm almost thinking that was the same year, of the bombing or'64, cause she didn't have her other two kids until two years after the bombing. She has Kimberly and Lisa, and I always said they're her miracle babies. But, my mother said wasn't a dry eye in the place. And, she, Denise was a beautiful girl, inside and out. And she was happy-go-lucky, I remember that. And, uh, she said wasn't a dry eye, but I remember that my parents, they got, they still got calls. Uh, there was, my dad did say this, and it angered me and I know it 00:58:00angered him, they said when they started investigating the bombing, they would ask my dad -- and they know he didn't bomb the church -- 'Do you have any friends or enemies when you left Virginia that would have bombed your church?' I was like, get out, and I was angry and I know my dad was angry, but they know that, but that, angered me. He said he got those kind of questions, they investigated him. Get real. Uh, -- I do remember, uh, like I said, the trials, I was given a pin, and I have it, by the FBI.
Let me show it to you, I think I put it in here. I came to a symposium overhere, must have been in 2004 at Birmingham-Southern College, look what it says, 'For my role testifying in the trials, justice for the little girls,' and it has 00:59:00the emblem, and the insignia, the FBI insignia, I have four of them. At first I said, 'Why did they give me four?' I said, 'Well, maybe because it was four little girls that were killed,' but I try not to put it on because I don't want to lose it. And I'll always keep this. On this side, it says '0-1-5,' they only had about 200 of them made, and I'll cherish that for the rest of my life. In fact, I want to be buried with that on me. Justice for the little girls.
And that was given to me by one of the FBI directors at the symposium, and thatparticular -- I'll never forget, John Lewis spoke, and he had just came out with his book, Walking with the Wind -- and, the, -- Mr. McNair was on the program -- I can't remember if Mrs. McNair was there -- they had, from the four different trials. They had from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, another guy 01:00:00who was firebombed, his home was firebombed for the NAACP -- his name is on that memorial marker, I can't forget, I forgot, I can't remember his name. Also, Myrlie Evers was there, these were old trials, and it was called, what was the name of the symposium?, Civil Rights: Justice Remembered, or, it was something about the old trials, I can't remember the exact name --
ANDERSON: Mmm hmm
CROSS: But it was a beautiful symposium talking about hate crimes, and how now alot of the older hate crimes were becoming solved. So I remember that. And I think I did tell you that I was at the dedication of the memorial marker in 1989. And there was the whole street that was closed off facing the Southern Poverty Law Center -- Rosa Parks was there, each family name that's on that memorial marker, most of them lost their life to the hand, by the hand of the Ku 01:01:00Klux Klan, except for Rosa Parks's name was on there because of the difference she made because of the Montgomery bus boycott. So they had a dinner, and they had a -- I can't remember where that was in Montgomery -- but that day, that Sunday, that whole street was closed off, and each family name that was on there, they paid our way -- well, they paid for the hotel, and, it was just awesome.
But it was so many names on there that I had never heard of before, but we had,we represented the family of Addie Mae Collins. I remembered, uh, Ms. McNair being there, uh, Shirley Wesley, who was adopted by the Wesleys after Cynthia died -- and she cries in that documentary, do you remember seeing her cry? -- OK, I'm surprised I didn't cry on there, I probably was just looking all everywhere, I can't believe I didn't cry, unless he didn't get me crying, 01:02:00because a lot of that you'd say and they'd cut parts of it out. But when Spike Lee said this, and this kind of sums it up, it's something about that raw emotion that overcomes those who talk about that, that you never get over it.
ANDERSON: How could it not?
CROSS: My sisters, they won't talk about it. My brother either.
ANDERSON: Well, I wanted to ask about them.
CROSS: They don't talk about it. Even the one that got cut in the head, theydon't want to remember. The one next to me, when I was on Oprah show, she --
ANDERSON: You need some more? You need this bag?
CROSS: Uh, huh. I don't think I have any more in there, Laura. I'm sorry.
ANDERSON: No, don't apologize. OK.
CROSS: Was talking about my sisters01:03:00
ANDERSON: You were talking about, yeah, your sisters and your brother--
CROSS: Uh, Michael, all I remember, and I don't know whether this is the type ofeffect he has, he used to always say when he got to be a teenager, that he never wanted to work for a white person. That's what he said. My younger sister, she doesn't talk about it. She did an article in one of the church papers about -- because most people don't hear about her, and I just, she doesn't probably remember at four, I don't know. The sister next to me, she became militant, but she said it wasn't the church bombing that made her militant. When we moved to Montgomery -- or was it here? -- whatever school she integrated, it might have been in Birmingham -- it was Ramsey High, so it was here, 'cause I changed to go to Ramsey my last year at Ullman, and I went my senior year at Ramsey -- she said they had a sign that said 'Nigger Crossing,' and the teachers didn't do 01:04:00anything, and let them have the sign.
And so, at cafeteria time, uh, they would space out all over -- no, they had tosit together -- so, one time, they were angry about the 'nigger crossing' sign -- oh, they would, used to put thumbtacks in the students' seats, so they, they were bad about that. So they said one day, we'll fix 'em, one black sat at every table, and the teachers try to make them move, they said, 'We're not stopping them from sitting with us,' and she said that was what outraged her. Because the staff, and the administrators were behind the white kids, and they were like, they were the enemies. So they, so when she, they got settled -- when I went over there it was OK -- but that's what she experienced, and that's what she said. It wasn't just the church bombing, but about the sign that said 'nigger crossing,' and they didn't stop the kids, so, that's where she was irate and 01:05:00that made her bitter.
ANDERSON: So she was one of the students who integrated Ramsey.
CROSS: She was one of the ones. Very smart.
CROSS: She was two years younger than me, cause I went over there in '67 to '68,and I graduated from Ramsey. I was in the choral, and I was in the drama. And I'll never forget my English teacher, she gave, I got an A+, she was real sweet, but I had no problems with them, I, I, I loved it, but I guess she was, had to go through the integration process. And was treated like that, so that's what she, uh, but they, they toughed it out.
ANDERSON: Now how did your family come to decide to be part of that as well?
CROSS: My family?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I mean--
CROSS: I think probably because it was a good opportunity for my sister to gothere, so I'm sure my father encouraged her to do that. Alma was very smart, she 01:06:00was like, very studious, like I like to look at TV all the night, she would be reading Gone with the Wind, she was, and she's still smart to this day. I was, I always said I graduated 'Thank You Laude,' hee hee hee, and I was interested in creative writing, I wanted to be a journalist, but my senior year of college, I mean my freshman year of college, I didn't want to go to University of Alabama and experience the hatred. So, my neighbor went to Tuskegee, so I visited her at Tuskegee, fell in love with the campus, so I was majored, English major, liberal arts, and took journalism courses.
So, I always knew I wanted to be a writer, a journalist -- I asked enoughquestions to be -- but, I just didn't pursue it. I, my first job when I graduated was with the telephone company, so I said I'm in communications, but a different type of way. So, but I did go take a course a Georgia State for journalism. But, yeah, my sister experienced that. But, like I said, my brother 01:07:00doesn't talk about it, he just -- he, they say he's bipolar or schizophrenic, and we didn't know whether the bombing had anything to do with why he said he didn't want to work for any white person. He's now living in New York, he's bipolar, manic depressive -- but they say it's more of a chemical imbalance, nothing to do with, that we know of from the church bombing.
But I'm sure that has some influence, and being five years old, to notunderstand and be in a place -- 'cause I know it affects me with crying -- but I know my other siblings, they don't talk about it, so I don't know whether it's painful, or -- But I will tell people in a minute, after the fact of college, because when I went to college, I shut down, I didn't want to talk about it. But after people started asking me to do things in the '90s, they knew my dad, if he couldn't speak anymore, they wanted me to, so I had to re-find my voice and share the story. So I keep it alive and keep my dad's memory alive, because I 01:08:00think it's important.
ANDERSON: You know, today it's difficult to even imagine that you all went toschool the next day.
CROSS: Mmm hmm. But I think, I guess, it's, I guess our parents wanted us tohave a sense of normalcy, because at home, everything was bombarded by the telephone, making arrangements for funerals, and like I said, I answered the door that Monday, but I didn't go to school the Tuesday and Wednesday -- I went to the service -- I'm sure my other sisters and brothers, they went to school.
CROSS: Uh, I'm glad I did go to the service, it was a little closure. I justdidn't say goodbye to them, because I didn't view them. But after seeing the documentary, I knew why I couldn't view Addie or the other three, and I didn't know about the viewing of Denise. I probably wouldn't have wanted to have gone to the viewing. Uh, we talked about the window and the three trials, and I was 01:09:00so glad to get guilty verdicts for those three men, I just hate that the timeframe took so long. But justice was finally done. And somebody once said that justice delayed is not justice denied, I think Rob, the guy, that U.S. Attorney General--
ANDERSON: No, Jones
CROSS: Doug Jones, yeah. Yes, he came to my father's homegoing service.
ANDERSON: MmmCROSS: Him and Sidney Sheldon. Sidney was the one -- I didn't knowthat they had people to, I guess to see if my dad could stand trial, I forgot what they called them -- but they can test the witness and be sure that they could be coherent. And it's ironic, because my father had had another stroke -- my parents, my mother and my siblings did not want me to take my dad to the second trial, the third one. I said, 'No, mom, I will be with him, and he can do 01:10:00this.' That morning, my dad, I knocked on his door, he did not answer. He was roaming the hall, he hadn't had his medication, I said, 'Oh my God.' So, I got room service to bring him breakfast up, got him dressed, got his medications, and one of the persons picked us up at the hotel and took us to the trial.
Only thing I couldn't be out there because I was going to testify and my dad wasin the room. But we came immediately after he testified and my testimony, we -- I'm trying to think, did somebody take us up there? -- yeah, we, we came back to Atlanta. But I was worried, I said, 'Oh my God, I hope my dad doesn't have another stroke up here.' So, they were kind, I think, with the questions, but he had to probably look at pictures. And, so I was so happy, I was, so we didn't know about the verdict of that one, 'til, I think it was a couple of days, but 01:11:00we were back in Atlanta. With the Thomas Blanton, I think that verdict came -- oh, with Chambliss -- that verdict came, I don't know whether that was the next day, but I think we stayed in Birmingham, I can't remember.
But I was glad of all three of the verdicts. My father did receive a call thatsomebody wanted to do a deathbed confession, but he said he didn't have to meet him at a church, that he could just go in the church and kneel, but they said, the attorneys said that it was a lie. But I believe that when a person gets ready to leave the world and when anything they've done they ready to make a confession, I believe that. So, they always said that fourth person, if I'm not mistaken was Herman Cash. But it always amazed me that these people want to be like FBI informants to get off for what they did. So, it's just, but I guess 01:12:00they give up one person to get the other person. So, I'm just glad that, it's not going to bring the girls back, but at least they could get some type of pay for some part of their life for what they did.
ANDERSON: You know, people come here from all over the world every day --
CROSS: Mmm. Wow.
ANDERSON: and they're on a pilgrimage. Um, and like I said, I know that yourfamily had to live with what happened here every day, you live every day with what happened here. Um, and I had a question and it left me, but I wonder how you feel about the fact, if you were aware of it, that people do come here, 01:13:00seeking something, um, seeking to just stand in that church, and stand on what they will call sacred ground, and they'll refer to the girls as martyrs--
CROSS: Mmm hmm
ANDERSON: Um, how that makes you feel now?
CROSS: I guess I feel honored that people want to still go there, to stand inthat place, and maybe kinda when they see that 'Angels of Change,' kinda to reflect, that many decades ago, what it was like to see the German Shepard dogs, and the fire hose, and if they watch Eyes on the Prize -- cause somebody used to ask us, 'Did that really happen?' I say, 'Yes. Those, Bull Connor, that existed, 01:14:00in the Kelly Ingram Park.' And it's just amazing, historically, with this Civil Rights Institute right in front of the church, and with those stat, statues in Kelly Ingram Park, they really get a sense of, what it was like, even when they go through those, those monuments, with jail cells, with kids actually filled up the jail, because parents were afraid to lose their job.
Or they see that vicious, gaping mouth of that dog with those teeth, that peoplewere actually, they sicced those dogs on kids and adults, if they could. I'm honored that they want to feel, just being there -- and just, taking it all in, 01:15:00especially to see the, the those signs out there, and I learned that when I Googled last year, about the church, that they had the side, a new monument on the side -- 'cause today was my first time seeing it, because we didn't have time to see it when we came on a tour, 'cause our bus was in an accident. So, I had had them to open up the church, but couldn't go really, I went through the front door and, and just gave them a hug. But, they said that that is one of the most questions that are asked is, 'Where was the dynamite planted?'
ANDERSON: Mmm hmm
CROSS: And today I saw like a rose, a flower on each name, and then a mon, uh, Iguess a flower wreath that had turned over, it makes me feel good that people still come, and even when we come and see busloads there. And one time, I'll never forget, cause I talk to people a lot, and when I'm talking to our group, 01:16:00there some other guys that were there, there were two black guys, handsome guys, and I said, uh, 'If you want to hear my history, I was here, that was my dad.' And he wrote me -- he worked for Glory Food Company, and he sent me a whole basket -- and he wrote a note, and it said, 'Thank you for sharing your history -- because I could feel, through your story, the impact of the bombing.' So I'm glad I did that.
One time I was upset when I came over here, because John Lewis had a group andthey had the Secret Service there, so, naturally, they were having to be sure that the church is protected. And he said, 'You can't come in.' And I told him, 'This was my father's church, this is like coming home for me, and I understand, I respect what you're doing, but I have a group, too, and this is my' -- I don't 01:17:00know whether they let me in or not, I can't remember, but I did say as much. I said, 'I was here the day of the bombing, and John Cross, my father,' -- I understand he had to do what he did, but I had to let him know who I was -- 'I'm not trying to do any harm, but I understand your job, too.'
That was the only time I got a little up, got ticked off, but I got over it. ButI'm glad you shared that with me, because sometimes I don't see who comes over there, but it's so good to know that people care and they still visit that. And I respect the minister now because I guess it's hard, 'cause you, you realize people want to make it a museum, it's not a museum, it's a active church. But people do remember, and I'm honored that people remember. I'm honored to do this interview, because a lot of times we get calls at my dad's house, I have had the home phone disconnected and just use my cell, or people write me and they want me, and I don't get a chance to write back to everybody. 01:18:00
ANDERSON: Yeah, I was gonna ask about that --
CROSS: Uh huh
ANDERSON: even now are you constantly approached?
CROSS: I like speaking engagements, but one thing was the best thing I think Iever did. It was a little girl from Oregon, white, I didn't know what color she was, but she left a message on my dad's answering machine -- this happened to me about the year, probably a couple of years after he had died -- and she said, 'Hi, my name is' whatever her name was, it was the mother calling, 'my daughter wants to interview Reverend Cross for a project she's doing for her school in Oregon.' So I called back, I said, 'Hi, this is Barbara Cross, I'm the daughter of Reverend John Cross, and my father is deceased.' And I said, 'She can interview me.' And she probably was not more than probably 10 or 11, so it's interesting, when adults get interviews, they get it mixed up.
So, she had me coming out the bathroom at the time of the bombing and I01:19:00survived, which was OK. But it was interesting, the guy who was a writer for this newspaper in Oregon, he said, he sent me the copy of the article, it was, 'Reflections from a Violent Past.' And his name, he's a writer for Oregon -- Bob Welch -- and he sent me a box of chocolates, and his book that is a combination of all, a lot of his articles in the paper. And he said, 'To Barbara, Thanks for taking the time to share your history and whelming us in the process.' And I was so honored that I called that little girl back. So, I'm glad I called her back. And now I started thinking about calling him and saying, 'Well, I want you to 01:20:00whelm, overwhelm me and help me get my book written,' but I haven't.
I might still do that, he has a writing place in, uh, Oregon, it's overlooking alake, I can't, I think it's outside of Portland. But, uh, but I thought that was so sweet, so it's little things like that. And, a lot of time, people at my church, they know, the kids doing projects, they want to interview me, but what I tell them, I say, 'You gonna have to,' and a lot of them, they don't do it, I say, 'you need to tell me what you're writing, I want to see what you're writing,' you know, a lot of time they won't do it, but they'll thank me. But I thought that was awesome. And the words may not have been exactly like that, but he said, 'Thanks for taking the time, to answer a little girl and whelming us in the process.' So, I'm gonna share my history, no matter how painful, because I tell even kids in school, when I'm not here, I want you to tell my story. And a 01:21:00lot of time, when they see me crying, they ask me some awesome questions, they said, 'Ms. Cross, why did you give Addie your wallet?'
ANDERSON: Hmm hmmCROSS: I said, 'That's a good question. This is a girl thing.Uh, if your teacher sends you to the cafeteria, I mean to the office, and your class is going to school, boys don't do this, but girls say, "Here's my wallet, here's my book, save me a seat.".' And they say, 'Well Ms. Cross, did Addie have any parting words for you?' This really got me. I know I'm on camera, I'm gonna say it, 'cause I'm gonna be truthful, --
ANDERSON: We are running out of tape, so --
CROSS: OK, Sarah says I didn't see Addie that day. When I testified, she alwayscalls me on this, and this is what I say. I didn't say it to her, because I don't like to upset her: 'You cannot know every step your sister makes, because you were in the bathroom.' I did not give my wallet to Denise, I didn't know, I mean, Denise was in my sister's class. I was not that close to Carole Robinson 01:22:00or Cynthia Wesley. I gave it to Addie. And, so, they said that and I said, 'You know, she was telling me goodbye and I didn't realize,' because her family say I didn't see her. And I was like, 'Wow.' I got a chance to give her my wallet and didn't realize I was saying goodbye to her. So kids ask a lot of profound questions that make me think.
ANDERSON: I'm sure they do.
ANDERSON: Umm, we can get a new tape, or we can say --
CROSS: Whatever you want to --
ANDERSON: it is done.
CROSS: Whatever you want--
ANDERSON: It is your decision.
CROSS: Whatever you want me to answer, I will answer. If you think this is, didyou, could you think of an area that you wanted to cover?