The Atlantic, September 15, I’m Still Saying Her Name
The deaths of four young black girls in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, created major social protests and need for change, but has much changed decades later?
Cynthia was one of the four Black girls who died on this day in 1963, when an act of hate shattered the 16th Street Baptist Church. I was with my parents at our own church, Sixth Avenue Baptist, a mile away, when we first heard news that our sister congregation had been bombed.
Only later did we learn the names of the four girls who were murdered: Denise McNair. Carole Robertson. Addie Mae Collins. And Cynthia Wesley, my friend.
Just as today we say the names of the many who have been unjustly killed by police officers, the names of those four girls became part of the call for change that energized social protests in the 1960s. In time, a shift in public sentiment compelled lawmakers to take action, and they passed legislation that strengthened voting rights, expanded access to higher education, limited some forms of discrimination, and changed society in countless other ways.