On Tuesday, September 12, a group from Wales’ largest national youth organization visited the 16th Street Baptist Church to pay their respects to the site of the 1963 bombing, celebrate 60 years of unity between the people of Wales and Birmingham, and view the Wales Window—a historic gift from the people of Wales to the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Read on to learn more about the visit.
About the “Wales Window for Alabama” at the 16th Street Baptist Church
Located inside the 16th Street Baptist Church, the “Wales Window for Alabama” is a stain-glass window donated to the church by the people of Wales in the aftermath of the horrific 1963 bombing that killed four young girls—Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Cynthia Wesley (age 14), Carole Robertson (age 14) and Carol Denise McNair (age 11).
When Welsh artist John Petts heard about the bombing, he was moved to create a stain-glass window as a gift to the church. Working with a local newspaper, Petts launched a campaign to crowdfund the window with the stipulation that donors could only gift half a Crown (around 15 cents in today’s money). This way, the gift would come from the people of Wales and not a lone, wealthy donor. The crowdfunding campaign was popular and quickly surpassed Petts’ goal.
Petts completed the project in 1964, and the “Wales Window for Alabama” was successfully installed prior to the 16th Street Baptist Church’s reopening in 1965.
The window, which depicts a Black Christ with arms outstretched, includes the words, “You do it to Me”—a reference to Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.”
Welcoming visitors from Wales
Earlier today, a group of young adults from Urdd Gobaith Cymru—Wales’ largest national youth organization—and Cardiff University visited the 16th Street Baptist Church to see the Wales Window for Alabama and learn about the church’s history. Reverend Arthur Price, Jr., who serves as Pastor of the church, explained the history and significance of the 16th Street Baptist Church to the group.
Here’s what two members of the visiting Welsh group had to say about the experience.
“This partnership between Wales and the amazing city of Birmingham was founded almost sixty years ago from what can only be described as a horrendous tragedy. On this trip, we’re celebrating what’s brought us together and learning about how we can unite against such hatred.”Deio Owen
“It was fantastic to see the window. We’ve all seen a lot of photos of the window, but seeing it up close in real life is so different. It’s even more striking and special than you would think. And to think that our nation, which is a relatively small nation, had such a part to play in the construction of the window is really special.
It’s really important for us to be here to represent the young people of Wales and to recognize that this really wasn’t that long ago. As visitors from Wales, we are taking note of all that we’ve seen and heard so that we can share these messages with our people back home. The fight for equality and justice isn’t over, so to be here and to be able to carry on that message is really important to us and to Urdd as an organization.”Emily Pemberton
Our visitors from Wales will continue exploring historically- and culturally-significant sites Alabama throughout the week, and will be present at the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing on Friday, September 15th.