The racially motivated assault killed four young girls and shocked the country.
This offense indicated a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Three guys responsible for Collins’s homicide were brought to justice between 1977 and 2002.
She attended the 16th Street Baptist Church along with her parents, Julius and Alice, along with her six siblings. On the morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, 14-year old Collins was in the church basement room having several other kids. Along with the four fatalities, more than 20 people were injured. Among these was Addie Mae’s younger sister, Sarah Collins, who lost an eye and endured other serious harms.
The bombing at killed Collins and her pals was a racially motivated hate crime. It happened in the context of social turmoil in the town of Birmingham, which earned the moniker “Bombingham” after a spate of terrorist actions. In the months before the church bombing, the Civil Rights Movement had made steps in the town of Birmingham. In May 1963, city and civil rights leaders negotiated the integration of public spaces, triggering widespread violence.
Collins’s homicide stayed formally unsolved until the 1970s. Robert Chambliss, an associate of a Ku Klux Klan group seen putting the dynamite beneath the church measures, was detained in 1963, but attempted just for illegal possession of explosives. The case remained inactive until 1971, when Attorney General William Baxley reopened it. Baxley got FBI files containing substantial advice, such as the names of defendants, which were withheld by J. Edgar Hoover in the ’60s. In a subsequent statement, the FBI said that their investigation was impeded by the dearth of witness co-operation in Birmingham.
In 1977, a 73-year old Chambliss was convicted of the homicide of Addie Mae Collins and sentenced to life in prison. A fourth defendant, Herman Frank Cash, expired in 1994, before he could be charged. Collins and her fellow sufferers became symbols of racial violence, styled as martyrs in the battle for civil rights. In 2013, the United States Congress granted each girl the Congressional Gold Medal.
The Collins family appears in the 1997 Spike Lee movie 4 Little Girls, a documentary on the bombing and its own political importance. In 1998, the Collins family requested that Addie Mae’s body be exhumed and moved to a different cemetery. Her body had not been in the place where it had been presumed to be. After decades of negligence, the graveyard records were discovered to be incomplete as well as the place of the body was lost.