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Ketanji Brown-Jackson to Visit Birmingham, Speak During Church Bombing Memorial

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson's visit will be part of the 2023 Forging Justice Commemoration Week, from Sept. 10-16, that will include a conference on healing, art interpretations and a film screening. (Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)
By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown-Jackson will be the keynote speaker in Birmingham on Sept. 15 during a memorial service commemorating 60 years since four little girls were killed by a bomb at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Brown-Jackson’s visit will be part of the 2023 Forging Justice Commemoration Week, from Sept. 10-16, that will include a conference on healing, art interpretations and a film screening.

“Who would have believed in 1963, in all those tumultuous times in our church’s history and in our country’s history, that 60 years later, we would have the first female African American on the United States Supreme Court,” said Rev. Arthur Price Jr., pastor of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Brown-Jackson’s place on the Supreme Court is a testament to the progress that has been made since 1963, Price said.

“We believe that’s a powerful statement for us to hear her speak on this sacred ground as we continue to remind the world of how far we’ve come and even how important what we’ve accomplished as a city, as a country and as a nation,” Price said.

A number of other events were announced Tuesday, including an exhibition of photographs taken by Chris McNair, father of Carol Denise McNair, one of the girls killed in the 1963 bombing.

“In the aftermath of that fateful day on Sept. 15, 1963, our city and our nation had to take a hard look at itself and reckon with the devasting effects of hate and racism,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Today, in the spirit of the Four Little Girls, we work to be better and honor them by preserving our history and building a future worthy of their sacrifice.”

The photographs, which are currently on display on the second floor of City Hall, depict Denise and a number of other public figures during the heat of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, including movement leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, as well as then-Governor George Wallace, a staunch segregationist.

Lisa McNair, Denise’s sister, said she wanted people in Birmingham to remember her father’s legacy as a photographer in the city.

“He carried a camera around with him everywhere, never went anywhere without it, and this exhibition you all get to see is just an infinitesimally tiny piece of the collection…He was the principal photographer for Black people, as well as white people, here in the city and so we have hundreds of thousands of negatives we have yet to go through,” McNair said.