Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

Dublin Core


Sixteenth Street Baptist Church


Jefferson County, Birmingham, Religion, Baptist, Civil Rights Movement, African American, National historic landmark, Ku Klux Klan


The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, located in Birmingham, became a national symbol during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. Having been built in 1873, the church was the first Colored Baptist Church. In the early twentieth century, the church would become a fixture in the African American community and would host many notable figures including W. E. B. Dubois, Mary Mcleod Bethune, Paul Robeson, and Ralph Bunche. As the church moved on in to the twentieth century, it became a center for African American activism. Rallies and demonstrations were held frequently at the church to support integration and equal rights; however these rallies would also be responsible for increasing racial tension dramatically in the neighborhood.
On September 5, 1963, the tension culminated in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church right before the 11 a.m. service. The blast killed four young girls and injured twenty-three other churchgoers. This incident would shock the nation and help propel landmark legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The FBI would investigate and find four men affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan responsible for the bombing; however, charges would not be filed until 1977 against one man, 1997 for the second, and 2002 for the third. The fourth would die in custody before charges could be filed. In 2006, the church became a national historical landmark. In 2013, the four girls who died were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the United States highest civilian honor.


Makayla Melvin, Auburn University



Makayla Melvin;