The Address: 16th Street Baptist Church
The Story: Their names were Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins. They were on their way to a basement assembly hall for closing prayers on a Sunday morning.
The explosion occurred around 10:20 a.m. It destroyed the rear end of the building. It injured 20 people, and it killed the four little girls.
The attack was meant to disrupt Black community activists who had been demonstrating for weeks for an end to segregation in the city.
The public funeral for three of the girls attracted over eight thousand people, but not one city or state official attended.
The Birmingham Post-Herald reported a month later that in the aftermath of the bombing, no one had been arrested for the incident itself, but 23 Black people had been arrested for charges ranging from disorderly conduct to “being drunk and loitering,” mostly in the vicinity of the church. One black youth was gunned down by police after he threw rocks at passing cars with white passengers.
The four men responsible for the murders were not charged until 45 years later.
But as Dr. King said during the eulogy, “They did not die in vain.”
They did not die in vain. The hate that took their lives did not triumph.
Today we tell the story of 16th Street Baptist Church and the faithfulness of the Birmingham community.