Black in the Day…Justice is Finally Served
November 18, 1977:
On this day Robert Edward Chambliss, the evil Alabama Ku Klux Klansman was convicted of murder for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four black girls.
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was an act of white supremacist terrorism which occurred at the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday, September 15, 1963. Four members of a local Ku Klux Klan chapter planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the steps located on the east side of the church.
Described by Martin Luther King Jr. as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity” the explosion at the church killed four girls and injured 22 other people.
Although the FBI had concluded in 1965 that the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing had been committed by four known Ku Klux Klansmen and segregationists: Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr., Herman Frank Cash, Robert Edward Chambliss, and Bobby Frank Cherry, no prosecutions were conducted until 1977, when Robert Chambliss was tried and convicted of the first-degree murder of one of the victims, 11-year-old Carol Denise McNair.
In a revival of effort by states and the federal government to prosecute cold cases from the civil rights era, the state conducted trials in the early 21st century of Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. and Bobby Cherry, who were each convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Herman Cash had died in 1994, and was never charged with his alleged involvement in the bombing.
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing marked a turning point in the United States during the civil rights movement and contributed to support for passage by Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Efforts to prosecute the other three men believed responsible for the bombing continued for decades. Though Cash died in 1994, Cherry and Blanton were arrested and charged with four counts of murder in 2000. Blanton was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Cherry’s trial was delayed after judges ruled he was mentally incompetent to stand trial. This decision was later reversed. On May 22, 2002, Cherry was convicted and sentenced to life, bringing a long-awaited victory to the friends and families of the four young victims.
In 1985 Chambliss died at the age of 81…and may he and the others involved rot in hell.