Johnny Robinson, 16, was shot and killed by police later that day after throwing rocks at a car driven by whites waving the Confederate battle flag. Virgil Ware, 13, died after being shot by white teenagers while riding his bike.
The bombing drastically increased support of the civil rights movement, both nationally and abroad as the public could no longer accept the violence shown by opponents of the movement. Less than a year later on July 2, 1964 President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.
In the 1970's Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley reopened the case, and found evidence in FBI files not presented at the original trial. In November 1977 Chambliss was convicted of first-degree murder at age 73 and sentenced to life in prison. He died in 1985. In 2000 the FBI announced that other suspects were Thomas Blanton, Bobby Cherry and Herman Cash. Blanton and Cherry were both convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Cash had died in 1994.
|Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, 2005|
The Children Who Died
Johnny Robinson, age 16
Shot in the back by police officer Jack Parker firing from a squad car. Others in the car said the driver going over a bump or hitting his brakes could have caused Parker to fire. Other witnesses heard two shots. Robinson's family never talked about his death, and his brother and sister went to school the next day. "They shouldn't have just focused on them little girls," said Robinson's sister, Diane Robinson Samuels.
No photograph or information is available for Virgil Ware, age 13
Addie Mae Collins (4/18/1949 - 9/15/1963)
She and her sisters sold their mother's handmade aprons and potholders door-to-door after school. Liked playing hopscotch, singing in the church choir, drawing portraits and wearing bright colors. The youth center at an Ishkooda Road church in Birmingham is named for her.
Denise McNair (11/17/1951 - 9/15/1963)
Held tea parties, was in the Brownies, and liked to play baseball. Organized a neighborhood talent show in her garage every year to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. Always smiled in pictures even when she lost her baby teeth.
Carole Robertson 4/24/1949 - 9/15/1963
Took tap, ballet and jazz dancing lessons on Saturday mornings. Avid reader and made straight A's. Member of Jack and Jill, Girl Scouts, marching band, science club. Wanted to be a history teacher when she grew up.
Cynthia Wesley (4/30/1949 - 9/15/1963)
Wore a size two and her mother made all her clothes. Liked to have parties in her back yard. She had invited a friend, Ricky Powell, to the youth service. He had agreed to come but instead had to attend a funeral with his family.
Information about the girls is from a Birmingham News article by Chanda Temple. Click here for the entire article, along with background on the bombing and Dr. King's eulogy for them.