September 15, 1963: Ku Klux Klan members bomb the 16th Street Baptist Church.

At 10 AM on a Sunday morning, a box of dynamite planted in the basement of a Birmingham church exploded. The ensuing blast injured twenty-two people and killed four - all black girls, three of them 14 years old and one of them only 11. During the riots that followed, two more black youths, Johnny Robinson and Virgil Wade, were shot to death by police attempting to disperse crowds. 

The year 1963 was an eventful year for the American civil rights movement: President Kennedy announced to the nation his intention to get passed a civil rights bill; activist Medgar Evers was assassinated outside his home in Mississippi; the University of Alabama was desegregated under the pressure of the National Guard; hundreds of thousands gathered at the National Mall for the March on Washington; and numerous protests, demonstrations, and boycotts were organized across the South. Birmingham, Alabama, was a particularly divided - and violent, when it came to issues of race - part of the country. Images and news of the Birmingham campaign made national headlines. 

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the senseless killing of young and innocent bystanders, and the violent clashes that resulted in reaction to the bombing were highly-publicized stories that alerted Americans to the struggles of the civil rights movement, although bomb threats and violence were not uncommon occurrences in Birmingham. The men responsible, later identified as members of a KKK splinter group, were not tried for the crime until 1977 (in the case of the group’s leader) and 2000

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