New memorial to be unveiled at 16th Street Baptist Church on Sunday, Sept. 15th

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16th Street Baptist Church. Photo by Nathan Watson for Bham Now.

On Sunday, September 15th, the 16th Street Baptist Church is hosting a ceremony to honor the victims of the 1963 bombing and unveil the updated memorial. All are welcome. Here’s what you need to know.

Remembering the past

Birmingham Alabama
Four Little Girls statue at the entrance of Kelly Ingram Park in front of 16th Street Baptist Church.

Sunday, September 15th is the 56th anniversary of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. The attack killed four little girls and injured 22 others.

For decades, the 16th Street Baptist Church has honored the victims with a memorial nook inside the church. The memorial contains pictures, information, and mementos of the bombing. This year, the church has been working on updating the memorial. The unveiling of the new exhibit will take place on Sunday, September 15th.

“I am very excited about the new renovations that we will have in our basement. We have always attempted to showcase the church history outside of the day of the bombing and the Civil Rights Movement. The new renovations will provide the opportunity to tell the story of the church from beginning to now.”

Ahkeem Lee, lifelong church member and tour guide

The Wales Window

Photo of the stained glass window donated to the 16th Street Baptist church by the people of Wales. Photo by Jon Eastwood

Recently, a Welsh delegation visited the 16th Street Baptist Church to pay their respects and lay wreaths in remembrance of the event. Following the bombing, Welsh artist John Petts created and donated a window to replace the damaged one. The Wales Window, as it is known, is an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement.

Recent renovations

The new doors at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Photo by Nathan Watson for Bham Now.

Recently, the 16th Street Baptist Church has been taking steps to restore and renovate the building. After winning a $150,000 Partners in Preservation grant, the church was able to add a protective layer to the stained-glass windows. Last week, the church replaced the main doors in the sanctuary. Although they are new, the doors closely resemble the original paneled doors that the church had in the 1960s.

Renovated memorial

The exhibit will feature an experience room with a 15-minute documentary on the Church and the 1963 bombing.

Additionally, the walls of the exhibit feature interactive panels. Each panel is to focus on different eras of the church, from its beginning in 1873 to current day. For example, one panel will tell the story of Wallace Rayfield, the black architect who designed the church. Furthermore, each panel will have photos and a slideshow. In addition, a large screen in the center of the room will feature various interviews of people connected to the church.

Unveiling of the memorial

Inside the beautiful sanctuary of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Photo by Nathan Watson for Bham Now.
  • Where: 16th Street Baptist Church, 1530 6th Ave N, Birmingham, AL
  • When: Service begins at 9:30am
  • All are welcome. Admission is free.

Sunday’s event will begin with a 9:30am memorial observance hosted by 16th Street Baptist Church. Following the observance, attendees will gather at 10:22am for a bell-ringing. At 11am, The Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, Pastor of The Mother Emanuel AME Church, will deliver a sermon.

Afterwards, the church will unveil the updated memorial with a ribbon cutting at 1pm.

“This church was very significant before the bombing and the new exhibit will tell the complete story of the church. We want people to know about black excellence during that time, and when you come here now you will be able to learn that history.”

Ahkeem Lee

Do you plan on attending the ribbon cutting ceremony? Make sure to let us know by tagging @BhamNow.

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Nathan Watson
Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.
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