Delayed Honor: Congressional Gold Medal for '4 Little Girls'

Nearly 50 years after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Congress recognizes the children whose murder was a seminal moment in the civil rights movement.

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Rep. Terri Sewell, a co-sponsor of the legislation (Getty Images)

Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14 -- known to many as the "four little girls" -- were killed on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, in the bombing of an African-American church. It was an act that that drew national attention to Birmingham, Ala.'s racism crisis.

On Wednesday, nearly 50 years after their deaths, in a measure co-sponsored by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), they were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. From the Washington Post:

The Congressional Gold Medal is one of the nation’s highest civilian honors and is awarded annually by Congress. Golfing pro Arnold Palmer and global economist Mohammed Yunus are the most recent recipients, while other civil rights leaders have received the award, including Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, the "Little Rock Nine," baseball great Jackie Robinson and the Tuskegee Airmen ...

Almost 50 years after their deaths, the House voted Wednesday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to four young girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., a seminal moment in the civil rights movement ...

During a congressional trip in late February to visit key landmarks in the civil rights movement, aides said Sewell and her colleagues personally lobbied House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who spoke in support of the bill on the House floor Wednesday.

The honor "is a strong reminder of how many people fought and died in the Civil Rights Movement so that this country could live up to its founding ideals of equality and opportunity," Cantor said.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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