The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the first house of worship for African Americans in Birmingham. Throughout the 1960s, the church was a center of black activism and a staging ground for the civil rights movement. On September 15, 1963, it was the target of a racially motivated bombing, that killed four little girls— Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. The bombing tragedy outraged the nation and contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Today, the church is a fixture of the civil rights district of Birmingham and serves as a monument to the community. In 2013, the murdered children were awarded the United States’ highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. And in 2017, Pres. Obama signed legislation declaring the church and the surrounding area the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

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Encyclopedia of Alabama

Photos courtesy of: Alabama Department of Archives and History