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Library of Congress Recalls Birmingham Church Bombing

Sixteenth Street Baptist Memorial Honors Lives Lost 55 Years Ago

A new display at the Library of Congress memorializes “Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing, September 15, 1963,” the traumatic event that took place 55 years ago, when four young girls were murdered while attending Sunday school. The display, free and open to the public, remains on view through Nov. 8.

The victims of the bombing included: Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Diane Wesley.

Selected works from the Library’s collections document the climate before the bombing, the involvement of Black churches in the civil rights movement, the role of children in the movement, the terror of the Ku Klux Klan, the suffering and sorrow of the community and the courtroom drama that ensued.

The display includes books, photographs taken on the day of the girls’ funeral and a press release issued nine days before the bombing where the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights outlined strategies for the Black population’s response to the racial crisis in Birmingham. Shuttlesworth wrote: “We have come this far by faith – not by violence.” His press release listed six ways that “Negroes can contribute to calmness and a peaceful atmosphere in the days immediately ahead.”

The installation, a two-case display, is located in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street SE on the second floor of the Great Hall near the Minerva mosaic.

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