A Brief History of 16th Street Baptist Church. Part 3

Four Little Girls. Their young lives were snuffed out by hate, but their deaths energized the Civil Rights Movement and galvanized a nation to pass the Civil Rights Bill with dispatch.

Addie Mae Collins -- Cynthia Wesley
Denise McNair -- Carole Robertson

The mass meetings held in Sixteenth Street, and in many other churches in Birmingham in May of 1963, resulted in marches and demonstrations that produced police retaliation and brutality, still painful to the memory of all who lived in the city and millions, who saw it reported on national TV news casts.  Most of the marchers were school children and several thousand were arrested. Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth provided inspirational leadership to the marchers during this chaotic time. The marches and demonstrations did break the bonds of public segregation in Birmingham.

Sunday, September 15, 1963, at 10:22 a.m., the church became known around the world when a bomb exploded, killing four young girls attending Sunday School and injuring more than 20 other members of the congregation.  Later that same evening, in different parts of town, a black youth was killed by police and one was murdered by a mob of white men.  It was a shocking, terrifying day in the history of Birmingham and a day that forced white leaders to further come to grips with the city’s bitter racist reputation. Keep reading