Fifty years ago today, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair were killed when the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963 as an act of racially motivated terrorism. Prior to, the church served as a gathering point for many of the city’s Civil Rights activities, thus making it a target for those against integration.
The bombing generated the opposite of its desired effect for Civil Rights opponents. With four innocent children killed and 22 others injured in the blast, the tragedy focused the nation’s attention and sympathy to Alabama and the South, ultimately serving as further impetus for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In 1997, the film 4 Little Girls, directed by Spike Lee, was released and depicted the events around the bombing at the 16th Street Church. The film later went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Documentary.”