During a recent visit to Birmingham, I knew I HAD to make time to be here even for a few minutes in memoriam. Having family there, I had seen the church before many years ago, but it's one of those historic landmarks that you cannot help but be drawn to no matter how many times you visit the city.
Troubling to be there because you're reminded that at 10:22 am on Sunday, September 15, 1963, 4 little Girls (Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair) lives were taken and many others injured in a horrific racially motivated bombing by members of the KKK. This tragedy marked a turning point in the United States during the civil rights movement.
Humbling to be there because you are in amazement being in THAT place where so much transpired, so much history, significance and impact this church had and yet through it all, and because of the many incidents surrounding that time...WE are here today.
Inspiring to be there because in spite of it all...the good, the bad, the sadness and despair, 16th Street Baptist Church STILL stands strong and still has an active congregation. In the midst of the memories, it's sure to give many who enter a sense of motivation and HOPE for mankind as a whole.
Time prevented us from being able to go inside for a full tour. My next visit, it will be a priority to get that in-depth history shared by those who are and possibly were there during that era. It's a MUST-SEE historic landmark.
Did you know...
The 16th Street Baptist Church was organized as the First Colored Baptist Church of Birmingham in 1873
As part of the Birmingham Civil Rights District, the 16th Street Baptist Church receives more than 200,000 visitors annually.
Sarah Collins (Addie Mae Collins sister) was in the basement and severely injured on that fateful morning. Known as the "5th little girl" Sarah has a first-hand account of that day. Read her story here:
Sarah Collins-Rudolph: The Fifth Little Girl
The 16th Street Baptist Church inductions:
Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on June 16, 1976
National Register of Historic Places On September 17, 1980,
National Historic Landmark on February 20, 2006
For tours, you must call ahead to schedule (see church website for details)
Days: Tuesday-Friday & Saturday (limited hours)
Suggested donation: $5
Tour lasts about an hour
Free parking is available across the street
1963 Birmingham Church Bombing Fast Facts
We Shall Overcome: Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
16th Street Baptist Church Bombings