That Which Might Have Been: Birmingham 1963
On this day in 1963, four little girls were killed in the Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. The FBI knew who the bombers were by 1965, and did nothing. The case was reopened 1977, leading to the conviction of one suspect who died in prison. The case was reopened again in 1980, then 1988, and again in 1997 before two additional suspects were convicted in 2001 & 2002. The fourth suspect died before being brought to trial.
In part because these little girls and so many others died, little girls like mine live…
Even though the legal system was slow to provide justice, the effect of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church was immediate and significant. Outrage over the death of the four innocent girls helped build increased support behind the continuing struggle to end segregation–support that would help lead to the passage of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In that important sense, the bombing’s impact was exactly the opposite of what its perpetrators had intended.
Birmingham Church Bombing, History.com
Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley,Carole Robertson and Denise McNair, you are remembered.
- Op-Ed Columnist: America Is Better Than This (nytimes.com)