The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963 as an act of racially motivated terrorism [by Ku Klux Klan members]. The explosion at the African-American church, which killed four girls, marked a turning point in the U.S. 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Although city leaders had reached a settlement in May with demonstrators and started to integrate public places, not everyone agreed with ending racial segregation. Bombings and other acts of violence followed the settlement, and the church had become an obvious target. The three-story 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama had been a rallying point for civil rights activities through the spring of 1963, and was where the students who were arrested during the 1963 Birmingham campaign’s Children’s Crusade were trained. The church was used as a meeting-place for civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth. Tensions were escalated when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) became involved in a campaign to register African Americans to vote in Birmingham.
Still, the campaign was successful. The demonstrations led to an agreement in May between the city’s business leaders and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to integrate public facilities in the city.
U.S. Mint-Produced Congressional Gold Medal Posthumously Awarded to the Victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing
September 15, 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of the tragic deaths of Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley in Birmingham, Alabama. The four girls, aged 11-14, were entering a Sunday school class when a planted bomb exploded at the city’s historically African American 16th Street Baptist Church. This act of racially-motivated violence galvanized the Civil Rights Movement and sparked a surge of momentum that helped secure the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
To commemorate their lives, U.S. Representative Terri Sewell introduced H.R. 360 to posthumously award Addie Mae, Denise, Carole and Cynthia with the Congressional Gold Medal, which along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is considered one of the highest civilian honors bestowed in the United States. The bill required the Secretary of the Treasury – and by extension, the United States Mint – to strike the gold medal, as well as bronze duplicates. After the bill passed the House 420-0 and, under the leadership of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, passed the Senate by unanimous consent this spring, President Obama signed the bill into law on May 24, 2013.
Sunday, September 15th, 2013
11:00 AM ET
50th Anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and others to speak
Live CSPAN Coverage: http://www.c-span.org/Events/AHTV-16th-Street-Baptist-Church-Bombing/10737441392-1/