NEW: 16th Street Baptist Church dedicates restored parsonage on anniversary of 1963 bombing

16th Street Baptist Church parsonage dedication
Members of the community gather to dedicate the newly restored 16th Street Baptist Church parsonage. (Sabrina Palmer / Bham Now)

On September 15, 1963, Birmingham—and the world—were rocked by the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church by the KKK that killed four little girls and injured 22 others. Today, the Church commemorated the anniversary with a memorial service and dedication of the restored Church parsonage. Keep reading to learn more.

For Addie, Denise, Carole + Cynthia

Birmingham Alabama
The Four Little Girls statue at the entrance of Kelly Ingram Park in front of 16th Street Baptist Church. (Pat Byington / Bham Now)

This year is the 59th anniversary of the bombing, and for every year since it occurred, 16th Street Baptist Church has honored the victims with a memorial inside the church and memorial events.

The bombing killed four little girls who we remember to this day:

  • Denise McNair
  • Addie Mae Collins
  • Carole Robertson
  • Cynthia Wesley

Two young Black boys were also killed in the aftermath of the bombing: Johnny Robinson and Virgil Lamar Ware.

16th Street Baptist Church
Photos from today’s events. (Sabrina Palmer / Bham Now)

“As one of the custodians of the historic 16th Street Baptist Church and the story of these little girls, it brings me joy to reflect and see how far we have come. Still, I acknowledge that we have much further to go. We cannot stop sharing the lessons from September 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.”   

Rev. Arthur Price, Pastor, 16th Street Baptist Church

Today’s Day of Remembrance included a memorial service and inspirational message by Dr. Tony Evans starting at 10AM, a ribbon cutting for the 16th Street parsonage at 11AM and a community luncheon at noon.

Dedicating the newly restored parsonage

16th Street Baptist parsonage
Now, you’ll be able to find an exhibit inside the parsonage. (Sabrina Palmer / Bham Now)

This year’s dedication included the restoration and repurposing of the 1914 16th Street parsonage, a church house. Now, the parsonage will include an exhibit that tells the stories of three men who helped to build Birmingham’s Black community in the late 1800s and early 1900s:

  • Wallace A. Rayfield: second formerly educated practicing African American architect in the US + the designer of the church building and parsonage
  • William Pettiford: founder of the Alabama Penny Savings Bank + former pastor of 16th Street church
  • T. C. Windham: the contractor for the building project + chairman of the church’s trustee board

“September 15 is a hallowed day. Four little girls lost their lives because of the hate that ruled in our city nearly sixty 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.”  

Randall L. Woodfin, Mayor, City of Birmingham

Did you attend this year’s Day of Remembrance? Tag @BhamNow and let us know.

Cecilia Wood
Cecilia Wood
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