Belated, but just.
One of the most heinous crimes of the civil rights era was belatedly, but rightly, brought to a close this week with the conviction of former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry of the murder of four young African-American girls in Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church on a Sunday morning in 1963.
The girls - 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, and 11-year-old Denise McNair - were killed when a bomb planted by Cherry and three like-minded bigots exploded as the girls were donning choir robes. Rather than scare the fledgling civil rights movement into silence, as the Klan wanted, the bombing had the opposite effect. It galvanized whites and blacks alike, across the country but also throughout the South and in Birmingham in particular, into renewed and ultimately successful efforts to end segregation forever.
Fittingly, the four guilty verdicts against Cherry were arrived at by a jury consisting of nine white and three black jurors. Two of Cherry's accomplices in the bombing were convicted of the crime, one in 1977 and the other last year. The third accomplice, Herman Cash, was never charged and died in 1984.
It took far too long for the perpetrators to be charged and convicted, but the families of the victims and the country at large can take some comfort in the fact that, at least in this instance, justice delayed was not justice denied.
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|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||May 25, 2002|
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