Four young victims of the deadly 1963 Birmingham church bombing are inching closer to receiving the Congressional Gold Medal after a unanimous vote on Wednesday (April 24).
The House voted 420-0 to pass a bill that would posthumously award the highest expression of national appreciation to Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14), Cynthia Wesley (14) and Denise McNair (13). The young teens were killed in the blast at 16th Street Baptist Church by a bomb planted by white supremacists.
The bill will now be considered by the Senate.
“It’s really a long overdue recognition,” Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell (D) told MSNBC. She and Spencer Bachus (R) represent Birmingham and are looking to honor the legacy of the victims.
“We thought it was very important and befitting that we acknowledge and honor the lives of [the girls]…This particular medal, I think, while it can’t bring back the lives of those that were lost, it is an effort on our part to really acknowledge nationally the sacrifices that these families have made.”
The sisters of McNair and Robertson sat in the House gallery to watch the vote. But, as previously reported, other relatives of the victims are not as thrilled.
Sarah Collins Rudolph, Collins’ sister and a survivor of the bombing, is seeking millions in compensation and says she would not accept the medal. Wesley’s brother Fate Morris is also not interested in accepting the honor on behalf of his sister and would like to be compensated as well.
Once the bill is approved by the Senate and signed by President Obama, the girls could receive the award by Sept. 15– exactly 50 years after the tragedy.