When Racial Tensions in the U.S. Were at their Worst: The 16th Street Birmingham Baptist Church Bombings

Heavyweight boxer Floyd Patterson, speaking at New Pilgrim Baptist Church after bombings and discrimination riots. Getty Images
Martin Luther King Jr. held a press conference in Birmingham the day after the attack. He said that the U.S. Army out to come to Birmingham and take over this city and run it. CNN
Civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is followed by Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, left, and Ralph Abernathy as they attend funeral services at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church for three of the four black girls killed in a church explosion in Birmingham, Ala., Sept. 18, 1963. Associated Press
This general view shows part of the overflow crowd attending the funeral services at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church for three of the four black girls killed in a church explosion in Birmingham, Ala., Sept. 18, 1963. The Sept. 15 explosion at the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church, where several integrationist meetings were held, ripped apart a Sunday School classroom. Associated Press
Coffin being loaded into hearse among the crowd at the funeral for victims of 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Photo by Burton Mcneely//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
The family of Carol Robertson, a 14-year-old African American girl killed in a church bombing, attend graveside services for her, Sept. 17, 1963, Birmingham, Ala. Seated left to right: Carol Robertson’s sister Dianne and parents, Mr. Alvin Robertson Sr. and Mrs. Alpha Robertson. The others are unidentified. AP Photo/Horace Cort
Mourners at the funeral for victims of 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Photo by Burton Mcneely//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Man digging grave for a victim of the church bombing. (Photo by Burton Mcneely//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Sept. 15, 1963: Juanita Jones, center, comforts her sister, Maxine McNair, whose daughter Denise McNair died earlier that day in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. At left is Clara Pippen, mother of the two women. The man at right is unidentified. The bombing occurred days after black students began attending Birmingham city schools. Birmingham News /Landov
Mr. and Mrs. Chris McNair hold a picture of their daughter, Denise, 11, in Birmingham, September 16, 1963, as they tell a newsman about the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. One day earlier, Denise and three other girls died in the blast while attending Sunday school. McNair operates a commercial photo studio. Associated Press
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama took place on Sept. 15, 1963, when four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite with a timer under the front steps of the church. al
Over 3,300 mourners including 800 clergymen attended the funeral of the other three girls. al
One of two men being questioned about the recent bombings sits in the back seat, at right, of a state trooper car with bullet holes in the windshield, as he arrives at the city jail for safe keeping, Sept. 30, 1963, Birmingham, Ala. At left is a state trooper. Associated Press
Robert E. Chambliss is smiling after his arrest for the murdering four young girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Getty Images
Robert Chambliss was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in 1977 of 11-year-old Carol Denise McNair and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in 1985. al
Ten years after Chambliss died the FBI reopened the investigation into the bombing, finding in addition to Robert Chambliss, Herman Cash, then deceased, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry committed the bombing. Blanton & Cherry were arrested and indicted in May of 2000. al
Bobby Cherry was tried and convicted of four counts of first-degree murder on May 22, 2002, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Cherry died at the Kilby Correctional Facility on Nov. 18, 2004. al
When asked if he had anything to say he simply stated I guess the Lord will settle it on Judgment Day. al
Thomas Blanton, the last surviving Klansman convicted in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing will go before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles on Aug. 3rd for his first parole hearing. He is serving his sentence at the St. Clair Correctional Facility. al
Thomas Blanton was tried and convicted of four counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in May of 2001. al