A turning point in the Civil Rights movement came 50 years ago when members of the Ku Klux Klan bombed a black church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Four young girls were killed. In the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, and Robert Chambliss, members of United Klans of America, a Ku Klux Klan group, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the church, near the basement. At about 10:22 a.m., twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room to prepare for the sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” when the bomb exploded. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the attack, and 22 additional people were injured, one of whom was Addie Mae Collins’ younger sister, Sarah.The explosion blew a hole in the church’s rear wall, destroyed the back steps and all but one stained-glass window, which showed Christ leading a group of little children.
Yesterday President Obama signed a law to honor the victims— Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carol Robertson with the congressional gold medal.
Four Alabama girls killed in a 1963 terrorist bombing at their church would posthumously receive the Congressional Gold Medal under legislation House lawmakers approved unanimously Wednesday.
Watch her moving testimony:
The medal is the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow.
The Senate also is expected to approve the legislation honoring the four girls, whose deaths became a defining moment of the civil rights movement. Once the proposal becomes law, a medal ceremony is planned for later this year in the U.S. Capitol, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
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