The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said that justice has at last been served by the guilty verdict in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four young girls. A jury convicted former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry of first-degree murder. He faces an automatic sentence of life in prison.
Kweisi Mfume, NAACP President and CEO, said: “Although it has taken almost 40-years, justice was finally served in what many consider one of the most heinous crimes during the ’60 civil rights era. All Americans of good will are glad to be able to close this final chapter of one of our nation’s greatest tragedies.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of the innocent young girls 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. Their strength and courage throughout this arduous, painstaking road to justice have been inspiring.”
A jury of nine whites and three blacks deliberated less than a day before returning the verdict against Cherry after a weeklong trial. The 71-year-old Cherry is the last suspect to be tried in the Sunday, September 15, 1963 dynamite blast at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
Two other ex-Klansmen were convicted and a fourth died without being charged in the deadliest single attack of the civil rights movement.
At the urging of black ministers, federal authorities reopened the case in 1995 that resulted in one conviction in 2001. It had closed the case in 1968 without any charges. A state investigation, reopened in the 1970s, drew a conviction.
Printed in Volume 1 Issue 10