Fifty years ago, on Sept. 15, 1963, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley were killed in a racially-motivated hate crime when a planted bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church. This horrific event further catalyzed the Civil Rights Movement, and soon afterward, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the deaths of the four young girls, U.S. Representative Terri Sewell introduced H.R. 360 to posthumously bestow the Congressional Gold Medal upon them. This award is one of the highest civilian honors in the United States.
As a result of the passage of this bill, the Secretary of the Treasury and the United States Mint were required to make a gold medal (and also duplicates of the medal in bronze). The bill was signed into law this past May after the bill passed the House, as well as the Senate under U.S. Senator Richard Shelby.