Legislation Giving The Congressional Gold Medal to “4 Little Girls” Killed in The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing Signed into Law by President Obama


On Friday, May 24, 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the “four little girls” – Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14) – who were killed as they dressed for Sunday school in the basement of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama by members of the Ku Klux Klan.  These four innocent girls lost their lives, and 22 other people were seriously injured, on September 15, 1963, when a bomb planted in the church exploded; their senseless deaths, along with the assassination of Medgar Evers earlier that year shook the general conscience of our nation and the world, and together these tragic acts were major contributing factors to the enactment of the 1964 Civil Right Act, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Perhaps even more tragically, justice was delayed for these 4 little girls and their families until 2002, 39 years after the bombing, when the last of the 4 White Supremacists responsible for the bombing was charged and convicted of the crime.


From Rep. Sewell’s office: On Friday May 24, 2013, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) will join President Obama at the White House for a bill signing ceremony for the Congressional Gold Medal Bill honoring the “Four Little Girls”.  H.R. 360 passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on April 24 by a vote of 420-0. Congresswoman Sewell and Congressman Spencer Bachus (AL-06) introduced the bill along with the entire Alabama delegation and Alabama natives Rep. John Lewis (GA-05) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-02).  The U.S. Senate unanimously approved H.R. 360 on May 9.  U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), who garnered co-sponsorship from over two-thirds of the Senate, introduced the Senate version of the bill along with Senator Sessions (R-AL).  Also attending the bill signing ceremony: Mayor William Bell, Dianne Braddock, the sister of Carole Robertson; and Lisa and Maxine McNair, the sister and mother of Denise McNair.

“I am thrilled that President Obama is going to sign H.R. 360, the Congressional Gold Medal Bill to honor the lives of Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. With the President’s signature, this nation will finally honor the sacrifices of these four little girls that ignited the spark which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I am especially honored that we will be joined by Dianne Braddock, the sister of Carole Robertson and Lisa and Maxine McNair, the sister and mother of Denise McNair. And though we will never be able to replace the lives lost or the injuries suffered, this medal will serve as a compelling reminder of the sacrifices so many freedom fighters made to help us achieve equality and social change,” said Rep. Sewell.

“This bill signing recognizes the legacy of four beautiful little girls whose lives, while far too short, led to permanent change in our society and became an honored part of the civil rights movement.  It was a pleasure to work with Congresswoman Sewell and our entire Alabama delegation in the House and Senate to pass this legislation on a year in which the City of Birmingham to commemorating the 50th anniversary of landmark events that helped extend the protections of the U.S. Constitution to so many who been denied their fundamental rights as Americans,” said Rep. Bachus.  

Taken from article by Lauren Victoria Burke, Politics365