Author Carolyn McKinstry to speak at the Suwanee Branch

SUWANEE -- Sept. 15, 1963 is a day that author Carolyn McKinstry has re-lived and remembered for the past four decades. It is the day that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed in Birmingham, Ala. killing four of her close friends.

She has written a book, "While the World Watched" to talk about the hatred, fear and inequalities she and her community suffered while growing up in the South. McKinstry will read excerpts from her novel and sign copies Thursday at the Suwanee Branch Library.

"I wrote this story because it was my story, I wanted it told accurately," she said. "I wanted to show what (hatred) does to young people."

McKinstry has lived with these memories since she was a teenager, which later led to depression as an adult.

"As a 14 year old, I was supremely frightened (of the bombing). I spent a good part of my life in fear. Six months after the church bombing, they bombed the house across the street from me," she said. "I think I decided at that point that I would die by bombing -- I didn't know when or where and I didn't know how to process this. I didn't understand that people didn't like people of color and didn't understand why."

In the book, McKinstry shares a letter she had written to God. She asked him, "Why would you create people of color if you knew that people would hate them?"

She learned the answer as she traveled around the world.

"The more I traveled around the world was God's way of affirming me that Birmingham was a small spot in the huge world he created. Not every place was like the spot I was in," McKinstry said. "The life of black children in the 60s was limited. We didn't get to travel and know that there were other places and other people that didn't hate us."

Through all of her years of speaking and finding peace, she has only one message for her readers.

"I challenge readers to try love for a change. We've tried hate and you can see where it got us; now try love," she said.

Books will be available for purchase at the event.