Family of 16th St. bombing says victim's name is wrong - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Family of 16th St. bombing victim says name has been wrong for decades

Posted: Updated:
Cynthia Morris Cynthia Morris
BIRMINGHAM - AL -

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.  It was a year of hardships - and victories that changed the nation. Part of the struggle was the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. But now, the family of one of the four victims says there's a big mistake in how the girls are remembered.

There are markers all over the nation remembering the four girls who died that day.  The family of one of the girls - says her name on every one of those markers is wrong. They hope in this 50th anniversary, she's remembered as they knew her. 

"I was standing up for what I believed in," Fate Morris, Cynthia's brother said.

The events of 1963 are still vivid in Fate Morris' memory.

"Hosed down with a big, powerful water hose, chased by the dogs down there," Morris said.

Fate and his sister, Cynthia, were raised by a single mother.  In order to enter a better school, Cynthia stayed with Claude and Gertrude Wesley - who were unable to have children. She came home on weekends.

September 15, 1963 left the Morris' with a pain that hasn't faded.

"And then I heard - 'I've got another body over here but she has no head.' But I went home," Morris said. "My friend came by later on and said, 'what happened? You should have stayed. The girl they found with no head - that was your sister. But I didn't stay - I left her buried under all of those bricks."

"I first heard on TV they were calling her Cynthia Wesley," Morris said. "I asked my mother, does that bother you? And she said, yeah of course that bothers me."

The Wesley's  told Ms. Morris they would send a car to pick them up for the funeral. The car, never came.

"We waited a long time and we ended up taking a cab to the funeral," Morris said.

"Another family who you've befriended is going to help you, and you get to the church and you're sort of pushed aside so that these other people can stand by your daughter's casket?" Stephanie Engle, a researcher helping victims of 1963 said.

Fate says his mother was too deep in grief for a public fight with the Wesley's. The grave in Greenwood Cemetery reads Cynthia "Dionne" - but on her birth certificate, it's Cynthia Diane Morris.

"How do you live every day for 50 years knowing your sister was wrongly named?" Engle said. "It's murder followed by identity theft."

Fate used these papers to prove her identity and changed her death certificate. This year, the four girls were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. The name on the medal, "Cynthia Wesley."

"It shouldn't be that way," Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was in the church during the bombing and a friend of Cynthia's said. "She should have her name changed so she can be recognized in history with her real name."

"Initially, the Congressional Medal was a nice gesture," Engle said. "I really do. I think it was phenomenal. The problem is - you have to fix the problem first then award the recipients."

Fate says he hopes during this 50th commemoration - people will remember his sister as she was born. The goal now is to move her remains to the Morris family plot.

"Hearing her name used as Cynthia Wesley and not Cynthia Morris - I'm not crying about Cynthia Wesley, I'm crying about Cynthia Morris.... my sister," Morris said.

In an interview years later, Gertrude Wesley said they never fully adopted Cynthia. The Wesley's have passed away - along with most of their family members. A statue is being built in Kelly Ingram Park memorializing the four girls. We asked the city how her name would appear, but the city was not willing to comment.

 

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • 1 cent sales tax increase for Hoover City Schools?

    1 cent sales tax increase for Hoover City Schools?

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:58 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:58:15 GMT
    In recent months, possible re-zoning and a proposed cost-sharing model for school buses have been controversial issues tied to funding for Hoover City Schools. But longtime Hoover resident and retiredMore >>
    In recent months, possible re-zoning and a proposed cost-sharing model for school buses have been controversial issues tied to funding for Hoover City Schools. But longtime Hoover resident and retiredMore >>
  • Fire danger rises for Labor Day weekend

    Fire danger rises for Labor Day weekend

    Friday, August 29 2014 11:59 PM EDT2014-08-30 03:59:40 GMT
    Our recent dry weather has created the perfect conditions for fire danger. More >>
    Our recent dry weather has created the perfect conditions for fire danger. More >>
  • Talladega parents allege school employee wrote racist Facebook posts

    Talladega parents allege school employee wrote racist Facebook posts

    Friday, August 29 2014 7:32 PM EDT2014-08-29 23:32:28 GMT
    Several parents and community members in Talladega are upset Friday over allegations of racial comments made from a school employee's Facebook page.More >>
    Several parents and community members in Talladega are upset Friday over allegations of racial comments made from a school employee's Facebook page.More >>
  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: Crews restore water service in Birmingham's Norwood area

    UPDATE: Crews restore water service in Birmingham's Norwood area

    Monday, September 1 2014 2:04 AM EDT2014-09-01 06:04:24 GMT
    Crews with the Birmingham waters board are still trying to fix a water main break that erupted yesterday in the Norwood area. According to spokeswoman Binnie Myles the break involves a 20 inch main sandwiched in between two gas lines.More >>
    Crews with the Birmingham waters board are still trying to fix a water main break that erupted yesterday in the Norwood area. According to spokeswoman Binnie Myles the break involves a 20 inch main sandwiched in between two gas lines.More >>
  • Car crashes into Birmingham house

    Car crashes into Birmingham house

    Sunday, August 31 2014 10:18 PM EDT2014-09-01 02:18:57 GMT
    Neighbors living on 16th Way Southwest in Birmingham say they're dealing with a serious problem.Numerous accidents are happening around a dangerous curve.Sunday a car slammed into a house.Neighbors say no one was hurt. But there are many concerns."I was wondering was I going to run or duck, was it going to hit our home." But a dodge charger hit the house across the street from Marcus Yarbrough's house. "I heard the car coming, screeching around the corner." "Instead of having a head on collis...More >>
    Neighbors living on 16th Way Southwest in Birmingham say they're dealing with a serious problem.Numerous accidents are happening around a dangerous curve.Sunday a car slammed into a house.Neighbors say no one was hurt. But there are many concerns."I was wondering was I going to run or duck, was it going to hit our home." But a dodge charger hit the house across the street from Marcus Yarbrough's house. "I heard the car coming, screeching around the corner." "Instead of having a head on collis...More >>
  • No more parking under I-20/59 bridges starting Tuesday

    No more parking under I-20/59 bridges starting Tuesday

    Sunday, August 31 2014 9:29 PM EDT2014-09-01 01:29:44 GMT
    Starting this Tuesday, parking spots under the Interstate 20/59 bridges near the BJCC in downtown Birmingham will be eliminated. Crews have put up at least one large sign, warning drivers of the change. SomeMore >>
    Starting this Tuesday, parking spots under the Interstate 20/59 bridges near the BJCC in downtown Birmingham will be eliminated. Crews have put up at least one large sign, warning drivers of the change. SomeMore >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:45:16 GMT
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
  • Gadsden police recover more than 300 stolen items; felony charges against suspected fence

    Gadsden police recover more than 300 stolen items; felony charges against suspected fence

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:22 PM EDT2014-08-29 03:22:34 GMT
    Joe Walker Pearl (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)Joe Walker Pearl (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)
    Police in Gadsden are trying to return hundreds of stolen items to their rightful owners. Captain Paul Cody said officers bust a large fencing operation this week. Joe Pearl, 75, is the suspect in the case. It took a long time to sort through and document a very wide range of stolen property. "We've collected a lot of stuff," Cody said. "Toilet paper. We have non-firearms related weapons, we have karaoke machines, musical instruments, car stereos, underwear."More >>
    Police in Gadsden are trying to return hundreds of stolen items to their rightful owners. Captain Paul Cody said officers bust a large fencing operation this week. Joe Pearl, 75, is the suspect in the case. It took a long time to sort through and document a very wide range of stolen property. "We've collected a lot of stuff," Cody said. "Toilet paper. We have non-firearms related weapons, we have karaoke machines, musical instruments, car stereos, underwear."More >>
  • Gadsden police arrest suspect in deadly stabbing case

    Gadsden police arrest suspect in deadly stabbing case

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:37 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:37:31 GMT
    William D'Angelo McKinney (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)William D'Angelo McKinney (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)
    Investigators in Gadsden said a man strangled his ex-girlfriend Tuesday evening before stabbing another man to death. Officers arrested 30-year-old William D'Angelo McKinney Wednesday night. He faces charges for murder and domestic violence with strangulation. Police said McKinney went to his ex-girlfriend's home in the Mill Village area and let himself in. Investigators said she asked him to leave, but he shoved her and then put her in a headlock until she blacked out.More >>
    Investigators in Gadsden said a man strangled his ex-girlfriend Tuesday evening before stabbing another man to death. Officers arrested 30-year-old William D'Angelo McKinney Wednesday night. He faces charges for murder and domestic violence with strangulation. Police said McKinney went to his ex-girlfriend's home in the Mill Village area and let himself in. Investigators said she asked him to leave, but he shoved her and then put her in a headlock until she blacked out.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...