The Shiloh Baptist Church Panic – Top 10 Bizarre Disasters

The Shiloh Baptist Church PanicTwo thousand people, mostly black, jammed into the Shiloh Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 19, 1902, to hear an address by Booker T. Washington. The brick church was new. A steep flight of stairs, enclosed in brick, led from the entrance doors to the church proper. After Washington’s speech, there was an altercation over an unoccupied seat, and the word ‘fight’ was misunderstood as ‘fire’. The congregation rose as if on cue and stampeded for the stairs. Those who reached them first were pushed from behind and fell. Others fell on top of them until the entrance was completely blocked by a pile of screaming humanity 10 ft high. Efforts by Washington and the churchmen down in the front to induce calm were fruitless, and they stood by helplessly while their brothers and sisters, mostly the latter, were trampled or suffocated to death. There was neither fire – nor even a real fight – but 115 people died.