Doris Gary, Oral History


Doris Gary, Oral History


Doris Gary (b. 1933) lived across the street from the Bethel Baptist Church and its parsonage in the Collegeville section of Birmingham during the time that Rev, Fred Shuttlesworth was the pastor. She consented to an extended interview with Bob Friedman at her current avocation, working at the Guiding Light Church in East Birmingham


Doris Gary
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


August 30, 2023


Lea McMillian
Emily Bibb






Bob Friedman


Doris Gary


Guiding Light Church, Birmingham AL


Doris Gary (DG): So this particular night when the bomb went off everything in the house shattered, the dishes fell out of the cabinet and everything, and everybody rushed out to the church to see what it was. And Bull Connor was the first person that was on the site as if he knew that they were going to bomb the church. And Reverend Shuttlesworth came out of his house with cotton... the bed that he was sleeping in was just cotton was all over him. And somebody in the crowd said, Reverend Shuttlesworth, said.. they trying to kill you. Say... you need to consider leaving Birmingham and Reverend Shuttlesworth stood on the front porch with cotton and in his pajamas and said, if God can deliver me from this, y'all go tell Bull Connor I'm here for the duration. And he was encouraged more to fight for the rights. They tried to kill him, but they couldn't kill him.

Bob Friedman (BF): Do you remember that day?

DG: I remember. I went out on, I went to the scene to see it.

BF: Yeah, and that would have been, it would have been in the 50s, I wonder. We can find that out in the news. (December 25, 1956)

DG: Yeah, we can find, yeah, you can find the day that the, that was a dark day in Collegeville because nobody knew the word, they knew that the church had been bombed and that Reverend Shuttlesworth was in the parsonage, but only the people that lived near him knew that he was alright. But he came out, I mean, his bed, he was blown out of his bed.


Full Interview: 37:17 minutes
Audio Snippet: 2:00 minutes


Doris Gary - Fred Shuttlesworth house bombed Xmas 1956 2 min.mp3


Doris Gary and Bob Friedman, “Doris Gary, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed July 24, 2024,

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