16th Street Baptist Church remembers 4 little girls killed in bombing 58 years ago

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - On Wednesday, we remember the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham that claimed the lives of four little girls 58 years ago.

A ceremony was held at the church Wednesday morning.

The loss of those four little girls on September 15, 1963, was a huge turning point for the Civil Rights Movement helping to tear down segregation laws.

On Wednesday, dozens gathered at 16th Street Baptist Church to ensure their names will never be forgotten.

Birmingham and our nation changed forever on Sunday, September 15, 1963.

A bomb, planted by four members of a local Ku Klux Klan chapter, exploded under the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church killing four little girls.

Rev. Arthur Price, Jr. read their names while bells tolled Wednesday morning at 10:22; the exact time their lives were cut short.

“We honor the name of Addie Mae Collins (bell rings). We honor the name of Cynthia Morris Wesley (bell rings). We honor the name of Denise McNair (bell rings). We honor the name of Carole Robertson (bell rings).”

Dozens gathered at the church Wednesday morning remembering that tragic day 58 years ago with singing, a sermon, a wreath laying, and a litany honoring their names.

“We honor your names because you were created in God’s image and according to His purpose, and your bloodshed resulted in liberation for the oppressed from the malignant and pernicious sinfulness of racism in all of its manifestations,” said Gaile Pugh Gratton.

The four little girls had gathered in the bathroom that morning preparing for Youth Day at the church.

They were excited to be a part of the Sunday adult service, but would never be able to attend.

Addie Mae’s sister, Sarah, was also in the ladies’ room that day, but she survived the bombing and wants people to know her sister and friends were much more than this tragedy.

“They didn’t get a chance to live their life, and I know, by them being A students, they would’ve become something good: doctors, lawyers, whoever. They don’t know because their life was stricken…their life was taken at an early age, but I want everybody to know that they was real smart and loving,” said Sarah Collins Rudolph.

Rudolph said she’s reminded of the bombing every day.

She said it’s taken some time, but she has been able to forgive the men responsible for that explosion.

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