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Clockwise from top left: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carol Robertson and Denise McNair. — PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. perfectly described it as “One of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.”

On Sept. 15, 2020 at 10:22 a.m., it will be precisely 57 years ago to the very minute that four sweet, innocent, and defenseless little girls were murdered by white domestic terrorists.

On that morning in 1963, while in Sunday School with many other Black children at Birmingham, Alabama’s 16th Street Baptist Church, those four — namely 11-year-old Denise McNair along with Addie Mae Collins, Carol Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, all 14 — were in the basement dressing room preparing for the 11 a.m. sermon entitled “A Love That Forgives.”

During the children’s preparation, at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device detonated under the church steps near the basement. That powerful explosion not only killed the four but also severely injured 22 others, including Addie Mae’s 12-year-old sister Sara who was permanently blinded when 21 pieces of glass shards were embedded into her pretty little face. As stated by one survivor, the bomb’s effect shook the entire building and threw the girls’ bodies through the air “like ragdolls.” In fact, the bomb was so powerful that it crushed two nearby cars and blew out building windows blocks away.

Despite international outrage in reaction to this hellishly evil public act, one of the four responsible KKK domestic terrorists, namely Herman Cash, died of natural causes 31 years later in 1994 without ever being charged.

And of the other three murderous conspirators, criminal charges weren’t filed against one, namely Robert Chambliss, until 1997 after which he was finally sentenced to life imprisonment. And to make matters worse, Thomas Blanton and Bob Cherry weren’t found guilty and sentenced to life until 2001 and 2002, respectively — which was about 40 years after the gruesome murders.

As Jerry White reports in a meticulously researched document published on May 20, 2000 by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), this 40-year delay occurred despite the fact that the FBI by 1965 already knew who all of the murderers were!

That ICFI document, accessible at wsws.org, disclosed a May 13, 1965 internal FBI memorandum to Director J. Edgar Hoover indicating that “The bombing was the handiwork of ... Klansmen Robert E. Chambliss, Bobby Frank Cherry, Herman Frank Cash, and Thomas E. Blanton Jr.” Despite that, Hoover in 1968 terminated the investigation without charging them or anyone else.

The FBI and every other federal, state and local law enforcement agency knew about all the violent racist attacks and brutal racist murders committed in Alabama and throughout the South (and the North, too) before, during and after the 1960s. In fact, Birmingham was so explosively notorious that it was widely known as “Bombingham.”

As an aside, during that time, “Bombingham” had no Black police officers. Kinda makes you wonder why all the Black cops in America today don’t do more to protect Black people from racist attacks by racist white cops and racist white civilians, doesn’t it? Did somebody say Black traitors?

Also, as another aside, “Bombingham” and many other cities during that time aggressively engaged in massive disenfranchisement of Black voters via political schemes, employment terminations, home evictions/foreclosures, verbal threats and physical violence. Kinda makes you wonder why over 40% of eligible Blacks voluntarily chose not to vote in the last presidential election, doesn’t it? Did somebody say Black traitors?

Speaking of voting, the firebombed 16th Street Baptist Church in the 1960s had been used as the rallying center for organizing Blacks to register and to cast their ballot to end racial oppression. Prominent civil rights groups and individuals such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress on Racial Equality, MLK, Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth, among many others, held strategy sessions there, often to mobilize children, some as young as eight.

Those four little girls did not die in vain. You want proof? Here’s proof: They were the catalyst that forced Congress to pass of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and especially the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Say their names: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carol Robertson and Cynthia Wesley.

Addie loved painting and drawing. Denise loved playing baseball. Carol loved singing. Cynthia loved performing in the school band. Addie should be a 71-year-old woman displaying her paintings at museums across the world. Denise should be a 68-year-old who became the first Black woman manager in Major League Baseball. Carol should be a 71-year-old woman headlining at the Metropolitan Opera House. Cynthia should be a 71-year-old ex officio and Hall of Fame marching band director of North Carolina A&T, which has the largest HBCU band in the country.

Say their names again: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carol Robertson and Cynthia Wesley.

Never forget. Always avenge. And you can avenge them by voting against the guy who in 2016 and again in 2020 was endorsed for president by David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK — the very same domestic terrorists who murdered these four little girls.

P.S. Charge, arrest, detain, prosecute, convict and jail for life the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor. Oh, and by the way, don’t wait for 40 years to do it.

Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as at AvengingTheAncestors.com. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD96.1FM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCAM/Verizon Fios/Comcast.

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