It will soon be 53 years since a bomb was planted and set off by a hatred-filled group of Klansmen, killing four little black girls preparing to worship inside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

It would be years before justice would come for Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Morris, all 14, and 11-year-old Lisa McNair. Now, the only surviving person convicted in their deaths will remain in prison – where he should stay.

Alabama’s parole board recently did right by refusing to grant a release for Thomas E. Blanton Jr., who was among the Klansmen who put a bomb outside the church. Though for years believed to be a suspect in the case, he was not convicted of the murders until 2001.

The sister of Addie Mae, Sarah Collins Rudolph, who is now 65 and was seriously injured in the bombing, asked the board to ensure that her sister’s killer stayed put. He is in a one-person cell in Springville, Alabama. Two other men convicted in the bombing died in prison.

As heartbreaking as it is to remember what happened that Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963, it is equally devastating, and disheartening, that Blanton has neither taken responsibility for the murders nor shown a shred of remorse. The former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Blanton agreed that he should not be released. Doug Jones said that letting Blanton out would increase the “insurmountable pain” the children’s families have faced and send the wrong message to anyone with a hate-filled heart.

He’s correct. Healing must always be given advantage. Hate must never be given advantage.

filed under: