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Book Jacket

320 pages
Feb 2011
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

While the World Watched

by Carolyn McKinstry

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In her memoir, While the World Watched, Carolyn McKinstry writes about the struggles, fears, and hopes she experienced while coming of age during the Civil Rights movement. McKinstry, who spent her childhood in Alabama, was one of the survivors of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963. Recounting the happenings before and after the bombing, she traces the events of the Civil Rights movement and the widespread effects of racism, following her journey from fear and hate to hope and forgiveness.

Carolyn McKinstry was only fourteen years old when a bomb planted by the Ku Klux Klan took the lives of her four best friends and left her with a drastically altered view of humanity. The explosion, which she missed by mere seconds, made the horror of racism a reality in her mind and planted a longing in her heart for things to be righted. Her story is one of loss and sorrow, but it is also one of recovery and forgiveness, dotted with hopeful childhood memories and moments of bravery in the face of prejudice and segregation. It also follows her adulthood struggles with depression and hate brought on by the Birmingham bombing, and the hurdles she had to face many years later. In the process of overcoming her difficulties, Carolyn holds to Matthew 22:39, learning what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself,” and in forgiving those around her, she finds healing.

While the World Watched is an eye-opening book that captures the essence of life in the South during the turmoil of the 1960s. Although sometimes tragic, McKinstry’s story offers a message of hope and love despite oppression and hate. The book is an excellent reminder of the wounds racism creates and the great bravery and forgiveness it takes to heal them. – Chelsea Molin,

Book Jacket:

On September 15, 1963, a Klan-planted bomb went off in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Fourteen-year-old Carolyn Maull was just a few feet away when the bomb exploded, killing four of her friends in the girl’s rest room she had just exited. It was one of the seminal moments in the Civil Rights movement, a sad day in American history . . . and the turning point in a young girl’s life.

While the World Watched is a poignant and gripping eyewitness account of life in the Jim Crow South—from the bombings, riots and assassinations to the historic marches and triumphs that characterized the Civil Rights movement.
A uniquely moving exploration of how racial relations have evolved over the past 5 decades, While the World Watched is an incredible testament to how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.