Sunday, 15th September, 1953 is viewed as a tipping point in the civil rights struggles of Birmingham, Alabama and indeed across the US. A bomb went off in the 16th Street Baptist Church killing four young girls, one was lucky to escape with only the loss of an eye. To this day she resides in Birmingham and attends the annual commemoration service held on the 15th of September.
The blast sent a shockwave throughout the entire nation. This callous and harrowing act was racially motivated and perpetrated by the infamous Ku Klux Klan. It occurred only weeks after the famous Dr. Martin Luther King Speech, who had himself paid a recent visit to the church.
Leading up to this tragedy there was a backdrop of civil unrest surrounding the issue of racial segregation. Locals were simply struggling for basic equal human rights. This cowardly act was intended to petrify and ensure the continuity of the status quo of the time. Little did they know it would have the opposite effect. If civil rights history is an area of interest, be sure to pen this attraction to your itinerary, even if you’re not a God fearing person. You may also enjoy a visit to the Civil Rights Museum.
The church openly and warmly welcomes folks from all walks of life. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour. Not only will you see the splendor of the interior architecture of the church, it’s also an education in the finer details of this historic event. For example many don’t know that later that day two other young boys were killed. Sat among the documented photographic history is a clock that stopped at the precise time the bomb went off which was present at the time of detonation. Suffice to say it’s a somber tour that is a sobering reminder of a not so distant time.
You may also be interested in visiting the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, it’s about an hour and a half away by car.
Entry to the 16th Baptist Church is free or charge, however, if you would like to avail of the full one hour guided tour there is a $5 charge per person. Group visits are catered for but please note that you should make travel arrangements a minimum of three weeks in advance and ensure you submit your info via their website with your preferred date and time. Unfortunately due to availability there is no guarantee they will be able to cater for your dates and times.
Tuesday-Friday 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Saturday (by appointment only)
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.