Bombing of the Four Little Girls - Futures Denied

Today marks 57 years that 11-year-old Denise McNair, and 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley were killed by Klansmen, Robert Chambliss, known as Dynamite Bob, Bobby Frank Cherry, and Thomas Edwin Blanton, Jr.

Birmingham, AL was nicknamed "Bombingham." It's estimated that there were over 50 bombings in Birmingham from the 1940s-1960s. The bombings were to rebel against African Americans who were attempting to move into the white neighborhood. Center Street was known as Dynamite Hill and the color line for blacks and white. The whites lived on the west side of Center Street. Unafraid, black families moved into the white neighborhood. They endured the KKK shootings, burning, and bombing their homes.

The 16th Street Baptist Church was built in 1911. The church had served as the headquarters of rallies and civil rights mass meetings during Jim Crow.

On September 15th, the four little girls and Sarah Collins Rudolph were at the 16th Street Baptist Church in the bathroom. It was Youth Day and the girls were happy and excited about their upcoming school year. Carolyn Maull McKinstry, the Sunday School church secretary answered the phone in the church office, and a caller said "three minutes" and hung up. McKinstry, a teenager, didn't know what the phone call meant. At 10:22 a.m. as she was walking into the sanctuary after hanging up the phone, the bomb exploded. Between 15-20 sticks of dynamite injured several church members, damaged the church, and destroyed cars.

(Bathroom window where the four little girls were when they were murdered).

The killing of the four little girls drew national and international attention to the racism and segregation in Birmingham.

I visit Birmingham every year. I make it a point to visit and pay respect to the young girls that lost their lives to hate.

Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, and Carole Robertson are buried at Greenwood Cemetery. Denise McNair is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. eulogized Wesley, Collins, and McNair's funeral at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.

Rev. John H. Cross Jr. eulogized Robertson's funeral at St. John A.M.E. Church.

Come 'round by my side and I'll sing you a song I'll sing it so softly it'll do no one wrong On Birmingham Sunday the blood ran like wine And the choir kept singing of freedom

That cold autumn morning no eyes saw the sun And Addie Mae Collins, her number was one In an old Baptist church there was no need to run And the choir kept singing of freedom

Addie Mae Collins liked hopscotch, sang in the choir, and loved softball.

The clouds, they were dark and the autumn wind blew And Denise McNair brought the number to two The falcon of death was a creature they knew And the choir kept singing of freedom

Denise McNair liked to play with her dolls, left a mudpie in a mailbox, and did a neighborhood fundraiser for muscular dystrophy. Denise's childhood friend was U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. They would play with their dolls together.

The church, it was crowded and no one could see That Cynthia Wesley's dark number was three Her prayers and her feelings would shame you and me And the choir kept singing of freedom

Cynthia Wesley was adopted at the age of six to Claude and Gertrude Wesley. Her father was able to identify her body by the rings she and her mother exchanged.