Alabama 16th Street Baptist Church bombing

As Birmingham prepares to remember the four little girls killed nearly 50 years ago in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing one woman is searching for answers. Liesa Healy-Miller is a forensic genealogist who is making a final plea for clues to where the final resting place is of one of the victims, Addie Mae Collins.

Ryan Vasquez/APR News

Birmingham is beginning five days of events linked to the 50th anniversary of the church bombing that killed four black girls in 1963.

   Thousands of volunteers are expected to participate in a day of service on Wednesday in the city.

   A memorial commemorating the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 also is planned in a downtown park, followed by musical acts and speakers.

   The events are the first of days of activities leading up to the anniversary of the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church on Sunday.

Roger Arvid Anderson

A memorial to four girls killed in a racist church bombing in Birmingham 50 years ago is headed to Alabama from California.

   A sculpture of the bombing victims is being shipped by truck from where it was created at the Mussi Artworks Foundry in Berkeley, Calif.

   It's scheduled to begin the trek eastward on Wednesday, and the sculpture is supposed to arrive in Alabama by next week.

   The piece will be installed and unveiled Sept. 14 at a downtown park near the scene of the bombing.

A former Alabama politician whose daughter died in a racist church bombing in 1963 has been released from a prison medical facility after a judge sided with an Obama administration call to free him.

   Peggy Sanford is a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Birmingham. She said that Chris McNair was released from prison hours after U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith issued her ruling.

   The U.S. Justice Department sought the release of the 87-year-old McNair on grounds of compassion.

The government is seeking the early release from prison of a former Alabama politician whose daughter died in a racist church bombing in Birmingham in 1963.

The Justice Department filed papers Thursday supporting the compassionate release of Chris McNair, a former Alabama county commissioner convicted of taking thousands of dollars in bribes.

McNair is 87 and suffers from numerous health problems. The request asks a judge to reduce McNair's five-year sentence to the time he's served since 2011.

Ryan Vasquez

September 15th, 1963 started off just like any other Sunday for Barbara Cross with morning Sunday school class down in the basement of 16th Street Baptist Church.

“Our Sunday school lesson that day was “A Love That Forgives” I’ll never forget that as long as I live,” says Cross. “In my class particular we discussed the scripture from Matthew the fifth chapter talking about agape love the godly type of love and agape is the Greek word for godly love.”

The city of Birmingham says more than 100 companies, churches and other groups have signed on to sponsor an event coinciding with the 50th anniversary of a church bombing that killed four black girls.

   The city's "Empowerment Week" is scheduled for Sept. 11-15, and groups have pledged more than $1 million to make it happen.

   The event will include a citywide day of service and panel discussions on the city's progress in the last half-century.

If you'd like to hear more of Alabama Public Radio's international award winning coverage of the civil rights movement, click below. Pat D. 

50 years ago, a bomb exploded at the 16th street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Four young girls were killed in the blast. It would take 14 years before the first Klansman was tried and convicted in the bombing. Robert Chambliss was found guilty of his part in the attack.

President Barrack Obama plans to sign a bill Friday that awards the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to the four girls killed in the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church.

   Alabama Reps. Terri Sewell and Spencer Bachus sponsored the bill, which received final approval May 9. Sewell told ( ) that some members of Alabama's congressional delegation will attend the signing ceremony at 12:15 p.m. Friday.

   Also planning to attend are some family members of the four girls killed in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.

Stan Ingold

All year long on Alabama Public Radio we’re looking back on pivotal moments in the fight for civil rights. Many of the landmarks in the battle against segregation can voter discrimination are now tourist attractions. We have already looked at sites in Selma and Montgomery on Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail and now we head to Birmingham.

Birmingham's FBI office and the Civil Rights Institute will examine violations of the nation's civil rights laws at its annual public conference on civil rights and law enforcement.

   "Fifty Years Forward-Toward Progress and Partnership" will be held at the 16th Street Baptist Church May 19 and 20. The church was bombed 50 years ago. Rev. Carolyn McKinstry and FBI agents will share perspectives on the 1963 church bombing and its aftermath.

Nearly 50 years ago, white supremacists planted a bomb in a Birmingham, Ala., church that killed four young girls preparing to worship. It was an act of terror that shocked the country and propelled the Congress to pass that historic 1964 Civil Rights Act. Lawmakers now want to honor those victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor that Congress can bestow.

Birmingham's public library has a new resource about the city's civil rights history: Letters written from prison by one of three Ku Klux Klansmen convicted in a deadly church bombing that killed four black girls.

The library obtained the letters written to and by Robert Chambliss and opened them for public use on Wednesday, the 35th anniversary of his trial.

Archives director Jim Baggett says Chambliss never admits any wrongdoing in the letters.

A retired agent says the FBI obtained the letters from a niece of Chambliss and gave them to the library.