16th Street Baptist Church to perform free “Memorial” service for 150th anniversary

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Memorial service
16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. (16th Street Baptist Church)

On March 20, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church will be holding a “Memorial” service in honor of the 150th anniversary of church plants in downtown Birmingham. Want to know what to expect? We have all the details.

What to expect

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
The play will be held in Birmingham’s historic church. (16th Street Baptist Church)

The “Memorial” service is commissioned by Red Mountain Theatre and will recount the horrors of lynching within Jefferson County from 1890 to the 1930s. It will begin at 4PM in the sanctuary and admission is free to the community. The play itself is just under an hour and a half, but afterwards a 30 minute discussion will be held.

Rev. Arthur Price is the pastor of the historic church, which was used as a rendezvous for civil rights leaders in the 1960s.

“Recognizing the unique and iconic role of 16th Street Baptist Church, our membership has long used its place of worship to communicate messages to the larger community. Continuing that rich tradition, we as pastor and the congregation welcome the community in to see and hear the striking stories of those who paid for their freedom in blood. We want to remember them, and we want to support the Jefferson County Memorial Project as they work to research and preserve these stories.”

– Rev. Arthur Price, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Pastor

The history

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
A peek inside the church. (16th Street Baptist Church)

Research for the play was conducted by the Jefferson County Memorial Project, a grassroots coalition who works to expose the stories of the racial horrors that ensued.

Bryan Stevenson’s work through the Equal Justice Initiative and the Legacy Museum, which is located in Montgomery, inspired the creation of “Memorial.” These organizations uncover the history of slavery and provide information to the public.

“The partnership between Red Mountain Theatre and The Jefferson County Memorial Project continues to grow. We are proud to tell these stories in as many places as we can and found the 16th Street Baptist Church as a fitting place to hear these men and women’s names, highlighting a sad part of our history.”

– Keith Cromwell, Red Mountain Theatre, Executive Director

Bringing awareness

Exterior of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Looking forward to this monumental anniversary. (16th Street Baptist Church)

Playwright Quinton Cockrell has worked as an actor and director and hopes this special performance will alert and inform Birmingham’s community about the past.

“I hope Memorial will bring the victims of racial violence in Jefferson County to our awareness. They deserve to be remembered. I also hope Memorial will draw attention to the kind of thinking that led to these atrocities and play a role in preventing future occurrences.”

– Quinton Cockrell, Playwright

For more information on Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the service, visit their website.

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Sophie Higby
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