WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly 50 years ago, white supremacists planted a bomb in a Birmingham, Ala., church that killed four young girls preparing to worship. It was an act of terror that shocked the country and propelled the Congress to pass that historic 1964 Civil Rights Act. Lawmakers now want to honor those victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow.
Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell and Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus of Birmingham are leading a bipartisan effort to honor the victims: Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair. Collins, Robertson and Wesley were 14 when they were killed. McNair was 11.
Sewell says the bombing was a catalyst for the civil rights movement.