The four young victims of the infamous 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama are one step closer to being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest civilian honor.
The House voted unanimously to posthumously award Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair with the honor. The measure now moves to the Senate.
Robertson, Wesley, McNair, and Collins were killed after a bomb – planted by white supremacists – exploded on the morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963.
The House effort was led by Alabama Reps. Terri Sewell, a Democrat, and Spencer Bachus, a Republican. The two represent Birmingham and presented Wednesday’s vote as a way to honor the legacy of the victims.
“It was there blood which was shed for the bounty that so many of us now enjoy,” Sewell said.
Bachus said the tragedy pushed the civil rights movement forward and honoring its victims was the correct way to commemorate their legacy.
While Congress has shown broad support for awarding the medal, the idea has split relatives of the four victims. Some are supportive but others are seeking financial compensation.
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