Birmingham Church Bombing
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African-American churches had long been a site for community and organized protests against racial injustices (see Southern Christian Leadership Conference). However, on the Sunday morning of September 15, 1963, a black Baptist church in Birmingham became a target of racist violence.

That day, Klu Klux Klan members planted a bomb, which detonated inside the 16th Street Baptist Church. The explosion killed four young girls -- Addie Mae Collins (14), Cynthia Wesley (14), Carole Robertson (14), and Denise McNair (11). A fifth girl, Sarah Collins, lost her right eye and others were injured.

Both the context (a church) and the victims (young girls) of the event sparked outrage and riots. Although punishing the perpetrators became a difficult task, the event led to support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The tragedy became a pivotal turning point as white Americans began to address the dangers of racism.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Baptist Religious Events and People in American History
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Race/Ethnicity and Religion in American History
Baptist Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Baptist Family: Other ARDA Links


News exhibit regarding the Birmingham church bombings- Flickr- photo by dbking (CC BY 2.0)

16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama- Wikimedia Commons- photo by John Morse (CC BY-SA 3.0)

March in memory of the Birmingham bombings- Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-04298

Birmingham Church bombing damage- FBI photo

16th Street Baptist Church and Four Spirits memorial to the 4 girls killed in the bombing- Flickr- photo by Rain 0975 (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Web Source(s)
Encyclopedia Britannica, "16th Street Baptist Church bombing"
The History Channel, "Birmingham Church Bombing"
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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