The first Women’s Studies Brown Bag of 2014 fit the theme of Colgate’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Week. This year’s week-long activities commemorating the life of Dr. King were co-sponsored by ALANA, the Dean of the College, the Office of Equity and Diversity, the Department of Environmental Studies, the Jewish Student Union, the Africana and Latin American Studies Program, and the Colgate Speaking Union. TK Thorne gave a presentation in front of a large Brown Bag crowd called “Last Chance for Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting the Birmingham Church Bombers.” Thorne is the retired captain of the Birmingham, Alabama police department. She writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Her first book Noah’s Wife was named the “Book of the Year for Historical Fiction” by ForeWord Reviews.
At the Brown Bag, she talked about her newest book, a non-fiction work called Last Chance for Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting the Birmingham Church Bombers. Through her job in the Birmingham police department, she worked to re-open the cold case of the 16th Street Birmingham church bombings that occurred on September 15, 1963. On that fateful Sunday morning, a bomb set outside an African American church exploded, killing four young girls inside. Only one man, Robert “Dynamite Bob” Chambliss had been convicted in the murders although many suspected he was part of a larger conspiracy with others involved. Last Chance for Justice tells the story of the FBI investigation that was reopened thirty plus years later in an attempt to finally solve the case and achieve true justice for the four young lives that were lost.
The night before the Brown Bag, along with a few other students, I had the opportunity to attend a dinner organized by Rabbi Dena Bodian about women in law enforcement. Along with TK Thorne, the other dinner guests included Investigator Val Brogan of Colgate Campus Safety, Deputy Chief Gert Neubauer, Assistant Director of Colgate Campus Safety, and Lieutenant Kristina Sisbower of the New York State Police. The four women spoke candidly of their involvement in the field of law enforcement. It was such a great conversation, and I certainly learned a lot about how the field, although it has made great strides, still needs more women. Hearing TK Thorne talk at the Brown Bag in addition to hearing everyone’s stories from the dinner really gave me a lot to think about in regards to the ongoing efforts to work towards equality for all.
-Lindsey Skerker '14