Four Little Girls
Denise McNair, Carole Roberson, Addie Mae Collins, and Cynthia Wesley


The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a racially motivated terrorist attack on September 15, 1963, by members of a Ku Klux Klan group in Birmingham, Alabama in the United States. The bombing of the African-American church resulted in the deaths of four girls. Although city leaders had reached a settlement in May with demonstrators and started to integrate public places, not everyone agreed with ending segregation. Other acts of violence followed the settlement. The bombing increased support for people working for civil rights. It marked a turning point in the U.S. civil-rights movement of the mid-twentieth century and contributed to support for passage of civil rights legislation in 1964.

The Victims
Denise McNair was born November 17, 1951, 11 at the time of her death. She was the first child of photo shop owner Chris and schoolteacher Maxine McNair. Her playmates called her Niecie. A pupil at Center Street Elementary School, she had many friends. She held tea parties, was a member of the Brownies guide organization, and played baseball. She helped raise money to support muscular dystrophy by creating plays, dance routines, and poetry readings. These events became an annual event. People gathered in the yard to watch the show in Denise’s carport, the main stage. Children donated their pennies, dimes, and nickels. Denise was a schoolmate and friend of Condoleezza Rice. She is buried in Elmwood Cemetery. About five years after the bombing, Denise’s parents had two more daughters.

Cynthia Diane Wesley was born April 30, 1949, 14 at the time of her death, she was the first adopted daughter of Claude and Gertrude Wesley, both of whom were teachers. Her mother made her clothes because of her petite size. Cynthia went to school at Ullman High School, which no longer exists. She excelled in math, reading, and band. Cynthia held parties in her backyard for all her friends. Upon Cynthia’s death she was found because of the ring she wore, which was recognized by her father. She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Carole Rosamond Roberson was born April 24, 1949, 14 at the time of her death. She was the third child of Alpha and Alvin Roberson. Her sister was Dianne and her brother was Alvin. Her father was a band master at the local elementary school. Her mother was a librarian, avid reader, dancer, and clarinet player. Carole, like her mother, enjoyed reading. She excelled at school and was a straight-A student, a member of Parker High School marching band and science club. She was also a Girl Scout and belonged to Jack and Jill of America. When she was at Wilkerson Elementary School she sang in the choir. Her legacy helped create the Carole Robertson Center for Learning in Chicago, a social service agency that serves children and their families. She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Addie Mae Collins was born April 18, 1949, 14 at the time of her death, she was the daughter of Julius Collins. Her father was a janitor and her mother a homemaker. She was one of seven children. She was also an avid softball player. A youth center dedicated to Addie and her ideals was created in Birmingham. Her younger sister, Sarah was with her at the time and lost her right eye in the blast.[3] Addie Mae is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.


4 Little Girls (1997)-DVD
Director: Spike Lee

Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine

Free At Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle by Sara Bullard (Author), Julian Bond (Introduction)

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