The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted unanimously to honor four young Alabama girls, killed in a 1963 church bombing. Martin Luther King Jr. had called them ”martyrs” of the civil rights movement.
The girls, all black members of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, will be posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the country’s highest civilian honors, created by an act of Congress.
Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; and Cynthia Wesley; 14, were killed on Sept 15, 1963, in the attack that struck the packed church on a Sunday morning. Twenty-two others were injured.
The bomb, composed of dynamite and a timer, was planted beneath the front steps of the church, outside a basement room in which 26 children attended a Sunday school sermon.