Statement of Significance (as of designation - February 20, 2006):
The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is associated with the Birmingham Alabama civil rights movement in 1963 in which two specific events led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Between May 2-8, 1963, participants of the nonviolent marches led by Reverend Martin Luther King and other prominent civil rights leaders used the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church as a meeting and training place, and as a departure point for the marches. The marches garnered media attention when Public Safety Commissioner "Bull" Connor released dogs and powerful water hoses on the marchers, which included organized school children. The Kennedy administration interceded to reach a settlement on May 10. On September 15, 1963, Ku Klux Klan members bombed the church killing four Sunday School children and once again drawing national attention to the violent struggle for civil rights in the South.