WASHINGTON, D.C., Thursday, May 9, 2013 — U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today announced U.S. Senate approval of H.R. 360, a bill posthumously awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the four young girls, Addie Mae Collins, 14, Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, who tragically lost their lives on September 15, 1963, during the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. The Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, has been presented to some of the most distinguished figures in American history.
Senator Shelby introduced the Senate’s version of the bill and secured the co-sponsorship of over two-thirds of his colleagues for the passage of H.R. 360. The House approved the bill, introduced by Reps. Sewell (D-AL) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) on April 25.
Upon passage of the legislation, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), issued the following statement:
“As the 50th anniversary of this tragedy approaches, I believe that awarding the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed upon civilians by the United States Congress, is an appropriate way to honor the memories of the victims. Their deaths continue to serve as a reminder of the struggle for freedom and equality for which many sacrificed their lives.”
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) issued the following statement:
“The 50th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing marks one of the most tragic events in our state’s history and the impetus for immense social and cultural change. We will never forget those young innocent lives, murdered because of the color of their skin. Birmingham is to be commended for the way it has fully acknowledged the enormity of this wrong in its past and has been a leader worldwide in the promotion of racial reconciliation. An excellent example of that, among others, is the “Birmingham Pledge” which calls on all people to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to end social prejudice. This Congressional Gold Medal is a lasting tribute to their precious memory.”
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (Ala-07) issued the following statement:
"Today, I am thrilled that the Senate passed H.R. 360, the Congressional Gold Medal Bill, to honor the lives of Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. I am especially grateful for the efforts of Senator Shelby and Senator Sessions that made the passage of this bill a reality. With the President’s signature, this nation will finally honor the sacrifices of these four little girls that ignited the spark which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is befitting that we bestow the highest civilian honor posthumously to them for the 50th Anniversary of the church bombing as we recognize and pay tribute to those who fought for justice and equality for all.”
U.S. Rep Spencer Bachus (Ala-06) issued the following statement:
“This is momentous recognition of the legacy of four beautiful little girls who, in losing their lives far too early, made a lasting contribution to the civil rights movement and in doing so changed America permanently. Our Alabama delegation has worked together to bring the Congressional Gold Medal legislation to this point and that should be a great source of pride. It is most fitting to have this recognition and reconciliation come as the City of Birmingham commemorates the 50th anniversary of historic civil rights events that helped extend the protections of the U.S. Constitution to so many who had been deprived of them.”