The bombing -- which killed Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14 -- was a seminal event in the civil rights struggle that ended legal segregation in the U.S. South and helped spur passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Nearly half a century after their deaths, the House of Representatives Wednesday voted to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the four girls killed Sept. 15, 1963. Twenty-two other members of the church were injured in the bombing and the 16th Street Baptist Church became a landmark in the civil rights movement.
The honor "is a strong reminder of how many people fought and died in the civil rights movement so that this country could live up to its founding ideals of equality and opportunity," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Cantor spoke in support of the bill to honor posthumously the "four little girls," The Washington Post said
Other recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal awarded annually by Congress include economist Mohammed Yunus, golfer Arnold Palmer, Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, baseball legend Jackie Robinson and the Tuskegee Airmen, an African-American unit of fighter pilots during World War II.