It was fifty years ago on September 15, 1963 that the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama was blown away, taking the lives of four little girls. The names of Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins, and Denise McNair – young victims of hate – are forever carved in history. The men who planted the 19 sticks of dynamite were brought to justice by Ret. police Sgt. Ben Herren and senior FBI agent Bill Flemming. Nineteen other churchgoers were injured in the blast, some taken immediately to the hospital. Their names were never nationally known as survivors of the vicious crime.
Robert “Dynamite” Chambliss was convicted 15 months later. In 2000, KKK member Bobby Cherry was arrested followed by Thomas Blanton in 2002. Chambliss and Cherry died in prison while Blanton serves a life sentence.
The bombing not only shook the nation, but it reached overseas to the heart of a man named John Petts. He was in Wales, 4,000 miles from the scene of the crime.