On January 20, while President Barack Obama was in prayer following his inauguration a delegation from Alabama announced they would seek a Congressional Gold Medal, posthumously, in honor of the four girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, U.S. Representatives Terri Sewell and Spencer Bachus stood next to Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. in a sign of bi-partisan political unity.
The four girls who died in the Birmingham, Ala., church bombing: Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; Addie Mae Collins, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14.
On September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress. It has been used to recognize world leaders, military heroes, scientists, actors, artists, institutions and events.
"This tragedy galvanized the Civil Rights Movement and sparked a surge of momentum that helped secure the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and later the Voting Rights Act of 1965," U.S. Rep. Sewell said a in letter to colleagues seeking their support.
U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus said in a statement, "It is important to reflect, especially for each new generation, how an act of evil that killed four innocent young girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church jarred the conscience of the American people and led to permanent change in our society."
The March on Washington took place in August of 1963, at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the now famous "I Have a Dream." However, racial tensions culminated in an early morning bombing of the Birmingham church. The bodies of four girls removed from the dust and rubble shocked the nation. The 16th Street Baptist Church was the site of African-American civil rights activism in 1963.
Source: STL American | Gloria J. Browne-Marshall