Today is the 45th anniversary of the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four girls, ages 11-14: Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins and Carol Robertson, and Denis McNair (who was friends with Condoleezza Rice).Here is what happened on that terrible day:
John Piper shares some thoughts from a Christian perspective. His wife recommends this documentary by Spike Lee about that fateful day.
That Sunday, September 15, inside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, four young girls had snuck out of bible class and were talking in the basement ladies room. They were dressed in white from head to toe because this was the church’s annual Youth Day and they had a special role in the 11 o’clock service. Suddenly a blast shook the building, and showered everyone inside with debris. The air filled with shouts, then moans, then sirens.
Maxine McNair searched desperately for her daughter. She found her father crying in the rubble. “She’s dead, baby,” he said, “I’ve got one of her shoes.” Looking at the horror on his daughter’s face made him yell out, “I’d like to blow this whole town up.” Ten-year-old Sarah Collins staggered out of the hole in the outer wall. She was partially blinded, and bleeding from her nose and ears. Twenty others had been injured and were taken to the University Hospital.In the ruins of the church basement, the four girls in white were found dead: Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins and Carol Robertson–ages 11 to 14.