September 15, 1963 Klan terrorist bombing executed against the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. When the bomb exploded at 10:22 AM it killed four teenaged girls, (from top to bottom in the photo) Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Cynthia Wesley (aged 14), Denise McNair (aged 11), and Carole Robertson (aged 14). The blast wounded 22 people in the church including Addie Mae Collins' younger sister, Sarah.
The 16th Street Baptist Church was a meeting hub for many of the local folks involved in civil rights work, and the jumping off point for the 1963 Birmingham Campaign of marches and protests that occurred in the city earlier that spring..
The Sunday morning bombing of the church was the heinous work of 'Dynamite Bob' Chambliss and his United Klans of America henchmen. The UKA was the now defunct (thanks to Morris Dees and the SPLC) notorious Klan group who were also responsible for the 1965 killing of Viola Liuzzo after the Selma march and the 1981 Mobile, AL lynching of Michael Donald.
Chambliss was arrested and charged with murder and possessing a box of
122 sticks of dynamite without a permit. But since this is the era of jury nullification, on October 8,.1963 he was found innocent of murder but guilty of possessing the dynamite. Chambliss was sentenced to six months in jail and a $100 dollar fine for the dynamite possession charge.
It wasn't until November 1977 that the 73 year old Chambliss was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, and died in an Alabama prison on October 29, 1985.
Rest in peace Addie Mae, Carole, Denise and Cynthia. We still have much work to do to get to the world that you heard Dr. King describe at the March on Washington before your untimely demise, but we're working on getting there.