Lift every voice! Learn how you can preserve Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

Birmingham’s iconic 16th Street Baptist Church. Photo courtesy of Rev Birmingham

This morning, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and community leaders throughout Birmingham will be announcing the launch of a month-long effort to win national funding to complete significant preservation efforts at the beloved and globally significant historic building.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church has been chosen as one of 20 finalists across the U.S. to compete for $150,000 in grant money through the annual Partners in Preservation campaign, a project of American Express and The National Trust for Historic Preservation, in collaboration with Main Street America.

Birmingham Alabama
Four Little Girls statue at the entrance of Kelly Ingram Park in front of 16th Street Baptist Church. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

The church, designed by African American architect Wallace Rayfield, was built in 1911. A meeting place throughout the Civil Rights Movement, in 1963, a bombing orchestrated by Ku Klux Klan members killed four young girls on their way from Sunday School to the church service. The event galvanized the movement leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. In 2017, the church, along with several nearby buildings and places was designated as part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument by President Obama.

“Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is a symbol of hope,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “While it reminds us of a painful past that we must never forget, it also proves how far we’ve come. Through its doors enter people of all colors, classes and backgrounds to experience today’s Birmingham – a place where, despite our differences, we work together. We unite as a city, region and state to support this sacred place.”

How to participate

Interior window at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Photo courtesy of 16th Street Baptist Church

The grant competition’s winners will be decided through public voting, which is open today, September 24 through October 26. Sixteenth Street Baptist Church invites the community to “lift every voice” in support of the Birmingham project by visiting www.16thStreetBaptist.org or texting “MAINSTREET” to 52886 to vote each day of the competition.

As a Main Street America organization, REV Birmingham nominated Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and is working closely with the church to run the monthlong campaign for votes. If the church wins, they would use the $150,000 grant to install protective glass on the outside of all the church’s recently-restored stained glass windows as well as make repairs to the cupola and twin bell towers.

Last year, REV Birmingham along with the Alabama Theatre and community leaders successfully secured a $120,000 grant from Partners for Preservation campaign to restore the ALABAMA sign on 18th Street.

“The tragic death of four little girls in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church diminished our world in ways that we cannot fathom,” said church pastor Rev. Arthur Price. “Yet, this terrible act of terror motivated a movement to support the passage of long overdue civil rights changes in our country. Sixteenth Street Baptist Church will always be a place of service, a place of significance, and a place of social change. Please help us to preserve it by lifting your voice!”

Photo courtesy of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham

Lift your voice today and everyday until October 26. Community leaders throughout Birmingham will be launching the campaign today, 11:00am at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Support the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and Birmingham

Once again, don’t forget to vote!  Go to: www.16thStreetBaptist.org or voters can text MAINSTREET to 52886. Another site you can cast your vote is at VoteYourMainStreet.org. Voters may submit 5 votes at once per email address per day. Winners will be announced October 29.

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.