“A Negro mother wept in the street Sunday morning in front of a Baptist church in Birmingham. In her hand she held a shoe, one shoe, from the foot of her dead child. We hold that shoe with her… We — who go on electing politicians who heat the kettles of hate. We — who raise no hand to silence the mean and little men who have their (racist) jokes…With a weeping mother, we stand in the bitter smoke and hold a shoe.” – An excerpt from Atlanta Constitution editor Eugene Patterson’s famous column “A Flower For the Graves,” published in 1963 after a bomb exploded in a Birmingham church, killing four girls.
The act of domestic terrorism that killed four children in a Birmingham church happened decades before Trinity Simone was born, but she is well versed on the ugly chapter in American history.
“It was something I truly know a lot about,” she said. “I’ve done my research.”
The Kennesaw 12-year-old was honored to be cast as one of the girls in the movie “Selma.”
“After I knew I was going to be one of the four little girls in ‘Selma,’ I did more research,” Trinity said. “This role just means so much to me.”
Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair were the children killed at the 16th Street Baptist Church, a tragedy that served to galvanize support for the growing Civil Rights Movement, whose leaders would gather in Selma two years later to organize a march to Montgomery.
Trinity, who has visited the exhibit honoring their memories National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, kept them all in her thoughts as she worked on the movie. The scene is brief and heartbreaking.
“I realized these four little girls never got a chance to go home,” Trinity said. “They died in the church bombing. I went home to my family.”
Trinity’s parents and siblings, Sierra, Bernadette, Jerry, Trey, Nicholas, LaShaun, Kingston and Kyro, are beyond proud.
“I never could have imagined my child would be participating in something so paramount,” her mom, Tracy Eleazer, said. “She’s involved in something that was a part of our history.”
She was not yet born in 1963, but was closer to the incident growing up.
“My memory of knowing about it was I couldn’t believe anyone could be so evil just simply because of the color of someone’s skin,” Eleazer said.
Trinity is a homeschooled sixth grader who has been acting for a couple of years, mostly working on commercials and print ads. “Selma” is her first film role.
“I really do think I was supposed to be in this film. I think when people see this movie they’ll say, ‘This happened back then and it’s happening now,’” she said, referring to the months of unrest in Ferguson, Mo. and elsewhere following the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown and the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson. “I just want people who see this movie to be able to connect, no matter what race they are.”