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🚨Four Negro Girls Murdered in Birmingham Church Bombing

Sept. 15, 1963 - Four Negro girls were blasted to death today and 23 persons injured in the daylight bombing of a church in Birmingham, Ala., setting off more violence in that city. Killed in the bombing were Cynthia Wesley, Carol Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins, all 14, and Denice McNair, 11. They apparently were in a lounge in the basement of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Cynthia Wesley was hit by the full force of the blast. She could be identified only by clothing and a ring. The bombing came during Sunday school. The lesson was “The love that forgives.” Within hours after the dynamite explosion shattered an already shaky racial calm, two Negroes were killed in shootings and three others were wounded. Police said two white youths fatally shot a 13-year-old Negro boy shortly after policemen shot to death Johnnie Robinson, a 16-year-old Negro. Officers said the older boy was killed as they fired over his head when they saw him throwing rocks at cars. In another shooting, a white man was wounded by a Negro, police said. Rock-throwing by Negroes was reported in many areas of the city. Leaders of the 125,000 Negroes in the city pleaded against retaliation for the bombing, which brought a climax of horror to the city’s first week of school desegregation. Mayor Albert Boutwell, voicing shock and disbelief, urged everyone to keep off the streets. Leaders of a white segregationist group seeking to start private schools called off a rally and asked followers to go home. Heavy police patrols roved the city as night fell. They sealed off the bomb-shattered church, used last summer as an assembly point for anti-segregation marches. Governor Wallace rushed in 300 state troopers. The Governor alerted 500 National Guardsmen in Birmingham. “The entire forces of the state will be utilized to maintain law and order,” said Wallace in a statement. Dr. Martin Luther King, who led a summer desegregation campaign in Birmingham, prepared to go to the city “to plead with my people to remain non-violent in the face of this terrible provocation.”

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