Bombing of 16th St. Baptist Church

Dani Altshuler

Date of Bombing

The bombing of 16th street Baptist Church occurred at 10:22 am on Sunday, September 15th, 1963.


Summary: The bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, was one of the most deadly acts of violence that took place during the Civil Rights movement. It evoked criticism and outrage from around the world. On the morning of September 15, 1963, as children prepared for annual Youth Day celebrations, a bomb exploded in the stairwell of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church killing four girls and injuring 23 others in the assembly hall. In the aftermath of the bombing, riots and violent demonstrations broke out throughout Birmingham, resulting in the death of two young African American boys. Following the riots a tainted investigation led by the FBI, Robert Chambliss, an active member of the Ku Klux Klan, was arrested and charged with murder and the possession of dynamite without a permit. In 1977, when the reopening of the case resulted in his conviction, he was acquitted with his crime of murder. Fourteen years after the bombing. In recent years, two additional conspirators, Thomas Blanton and Robert Cherry, have been tried and convicted for their roles in the church bombing. The bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which previously served as a central meeting place and staging ground for Civil Rights activities, was intended to stall the progression of the Civil Rights movement; however, the tragedy had the opposite effect, galvanizing support and propelling the movement forward.

Impact on the Civil Rights Movement

Locally, the bombing brought the factional civil rights leaders together. Nationally, the bombing provided the civil rights movement four young, innocent faces. The blast outraged the nation as a whole, and helped provide reason for the Selma to Montgomery March in 1964, the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the Voting Rights of 1965, and the overall death of segregation in the South.
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