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Birmingham Commemorates 59th Year Since 1963 Church Bombing

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The Birmingham Times

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church will host its annual day of remembrance on the 59thcommemoration of church bombing with a special guest speaker and community luncheon.

On Sept. 15, 1963, Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins, was killed when members of the Ku Klux Klan placed a bomb at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

“September 15 is a hallowed day,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “Four little girls lost their lives because of the hate that ruled in our city nearly 60 years ago. Today, as a Black man serving as the mayor, I stand in the light of their legacy in a new Birmingham – one of acceptance, equality and love.”

 The day will kick off at 10 a.m. with a memorial service and inspirational message by Dr. Tony Evans, an American Christian pastor, speaker, author, and widely syndicated radio and television broadcaster in the United States. Evans serves as senior pastor to the more than 9,500-member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.

At 11 a.m. there will be a ribbon cutting at the Sixteenth Street personage, honoring the completion honoring the completion of the restoration and re-purposing of the 1914 structure.

 The personage will display an exhibit that tells the stories of the three men who helped to build Birmingham’s Black community in the late 1800s and early 1900s: Wallace A. Rayfield, the second formally educated practicing African American architect in the United States and the designer of the church building and parsonage; William Pettiford, founder of the Alabama Penny Savings Bank and former pastor of 16th Street church; and T. C. Windham, the contractor for the building project and chairman of the church’s trustee board.

 The day concludes with a noon community luncheon in the parking lot of the church at Sixth Avenue North.

 As one of the custodians of the historic Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the story of these little girls, it brings me joy to reflect and see how far we have come,” said the Rev. Arthur Price, pastor of the church. “Still, I acknowledge that we have much further to go. We cannot stop sharing the lessons from Sept. 15, 1963, and also working to bring about peace in our community. We do this for Addie, Denise, Carole and Cynthia so that their deaths will not be in vain.”

The events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit  16thstreetbaptist.org.

Lisa McNair publishes letters to sister who died in church bombing

Lisa McNair, whose sister was one of four little girls killed on Sept. 15, 1963 in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, has published a book “Dear Denise: Letters to the Sister I Never Knew” and will hold a reception and signing 5 p.m. Friday, September 16 at the Sixteenth Street Church.

The book signing event is sponsored by The Morgan Project (TMP), a nonprofit organization with the mission to teach civil rights and social justice through Birmingham’s history of conflict and courage.

The events begin at 5 p.m. at the church with the book launch followed by a reception at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where supporters may purchase a copy of the book or here. For more information contact Lisa McNair at lisa@speaklisa.com.