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16th Street Baptist Church bombing

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a turning point of the US civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was a rallying point for many of civil rights activities. On Sunday, September 15, 1963, Ku Klux Klan member Robert Edward Chambliss (aka Dynamite Bob) planted 19 sticks of dynamite in the basement of the Church. At about 10:25 AM, they exploded. Four young girls - Addie May Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair - were killed in the blast, while 22 more were injured.

Outrage at the bombing and the grief that followed helped ensure the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Chambliss was tried and found not guilty of murder, but years later it was found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had accumulated evidence against Chambliss and three accomplices that had not been revealed to the prosecutors of the original trial, by order of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. It ended up taking 13 years, but in 1977 Chambliss was convicted for the murders and sentenced to several terms of life imprisonment. He died in prison in 1985.

After reopening the case several times, in 2000 the FBI brought charges against two of Chambliss's Ku Klux Klan accomplices, Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton. Blanton and Cherry were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.