Addie May Collins
April 18, 1949
September 15, 1963
Age at Death:
Addie Mae Collins was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 18, 1949. She attended the 16th Street Baptist Church with her parents, Julius and Alice, as well as her six siblings. On the morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, 14-year-old Collins was in the 16th Street Baptist Church basement room with a group of other children when a bomb went off.
Addie was among the bombing victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church who included Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair. Ms. Collins' younger sister, Sara Collins Rudolph, survived the explosion, losing an eye, and remembers the moments prior to the explosion as her sister Addie was tying the dress sash of little Denise. It was a racially motivated crime.
Was justice served?
Yes. The murders were seen for years as an unsolved crime until 1970's, when Robert Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan was seen placing the dynamite under the church steps, was arrested in 1963, but tried only for illegal possession of explosives. The case remained dormant until 1971, when Attorney General William Baxley reopened it. Baxley obtained FBI files containing substantive information, including the names of suspects, which had been withheld by J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s. In a later statement, the FBI stated that their investigation had been impeded by the lack of witness cooperation in Birmingham. In 1977, a 73-year-old Chambliss was convicted of the murder of Collins and sentenced to life in prison. Two other perpetrators—Thomas Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry—were convicted in 2001 and 2002, respectively. A fourth suspect, Herman Frank Cash, died in 1994, before he could be charged. The victims are recognized as civil rights martyrs.