“Four little girls” received in death Friday one of the country’s highest civilian awards, as the nation’s first African American president honored some of the youngest victims in the historic fight for equal rights.
In the Oval Office, President Obama signed a bill designating the Congressional Gold Medal to the four girls killed on Sept. 15, 1963, when the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was bombed by a group of Ku Klux Klan members.
The girls’ names were Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14. They died inside their Sunday school classrooms when dynamite, set to explode by a timer, blew up the African American church.
The attack that killed the girls and injured 22 other churchgoers marked a turning point in the American struggle for civil rights. Propelled in part by public outrage over the bombing, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act the next year. (Washington Post)