Remembering The 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing: the Terrorists Lost!

Posted on September 12, 2013


I wonder if terrorists ever get frustrated at the futility of their efforts. They should.

September 15, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. Four little African American girls attending Sunday School were killed. In addition, 22 others were injured by the blast.

The church served as an organizing center for Civil Rights activities in Birmingham. It became a target of the Klu Klux Klan after Alabama Governor George Wallace said publicly that what was needed to stop integration was “a few first-class funerals.”

1963 Birmingham church bombing victims-flickr, Image Editor

The bombing victims

I wonder if the four members of the United Klans of America who conspired to carry out the bombing smiled in satisfaction as they watched news reports of their handiwork on television. Did they chuckle when they heard that they managed to kill four children at Sunday School? Did they really believe they had accomplished something for the cause of racism, segregation, prejudice, and discrimination?

Horrific as this bombing was, it was far from unique. In fact, it was only the latest in a long series of nearly 50 terrorist bombings of black institutions in the city that had earned for Birmingham the nickname “Bombingham.”

And for what? With all the carnage, mayhem, and pain the terrorists imposed upon innocent children and their families, they accomplished nothing for the evil cause they espoused. In fact, it is now widely believed that the revulsion felt by people throughout the nation when they saw the effects of this heinous crime on their television screens helped to bring about passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Now, 50 years later, Congress has awarded its highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the young victims. Perhaps more significantly, one of the girls’ Sunday School classmates, William Bell, who like three of the four who died was 14 years old at the time, is now mayor of Birmingham.

What the terrorists did that day in 1963 became a rallying point for the Civil Rights movement. Far from being intimidated, African Americans were emboldened even more to push on in the cause in which these four young lives were taken.

When will terrorists learn that people who believe they standing for the right will not be intimidated by violence into backing down? When will the terrorists, whether of 1963, 2001, or 2013, learn that in the very nature of the case, terrorism can’t win?

I have deliberately not mentioned the names of the perpetrators of this evil act. They deserve no notoriety. But the four girls who died should forever live in our memories. Here are their names:

Addie Mae Collins, age 14; Denise McNair, age 11; Carole Robertson, age 14; Cynthia Wesley, age 14.

Ron Franklin

Photo credit: Image Editor at