1963 September 15

“Bombingham”: Birmingham Church Bomb Kills Four African American Girls

 

Four African American girls were killed in the Birmingham, Alabama, on this day by a bomb placed at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The bombing was one of many that gave the city the nickname “Bombingham.” The four girls killed on this day were Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair.The bombing and the murders are the subject of Spike Lee’s 1997 film 4 Little Girls.

The day following the bombing, September 16, 1963, a local white attorney named Charles Morgan spoke about against the racist violence. He and his family were immediately retaliated against, his law practice evaporated, and they quickly left town. Morgan wrote a book about the experience, A Time to Speak. He then became a lawyer for the ACLU, in charge of its Southern Regional Office. Among many important civil liberties cases, he argued Reynolds v. Sims, which on June 15, 1964 established the principle of one-person, one vote for legislative districting.

Fourteen years after the bombing, Robert “’Dynamite Bob”’ Chambliss was convicted of the crime on Nov. 18, 1977. Thomas Blanton Jr was convicted in 2001, and Bobby Frank Cherry was convicted in 2002.

See the Spike Lee Documentary: 4 Little Girls (1997)

Watch a short documentary on “Bombingham”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-MuWDsv5pg

Learn more: Diane McWhorter, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution (2001)

Hear Joan Baez sing “Birmingham Sunday”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ0y-vO9QLE

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