This Day in Black History: Nov. 18, 1977

KKK member Robert Chambliss convicted in Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing.

Posted: 11/18/2012 07:00 AM EST
This Day in Black History: Nov. 18, 1977

On Nov. 18, 1977, Ku Klux Klan member Robert Chambliss was convicted in the Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing that killed four little Black girls.

A witness identified Chambliss as the man who placed a box of dynamite underneath the stairs of the 16th Street Baptist Church, where the girls and dozens of others were attending Sunday school services. Carole Robertson, 14, Denise McNair, 11, Cynthia Wesley, 14, and Addie Mae Collins, 14, all died in the blast and 23 others were injured.

Chambliss was arrested and tried with murder on Oct. 8, 1963, but was cleared on the murder charges and sentenced to six months in jail for having the dynamite and $300 fine. Civil rights leaders rallied for justice for the little girls, and with the help of Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, the FBI reopened the case to reveal evidence against Chambliss not used in the original trial.

In November 1977, at 73 years old, Chambliss was re-tried and convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison. He died on Oct. 29, 1985.

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(Photo: Wikicommons)

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