BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Many people know 16th Street Baptist Church as the place where four little girls lost their lives due to a bombing, but the church was a key location for the civil rights movement 60 years ago.
This year, the church celebrates 150 years as a congregation. The church was constructed by the second licensed African American architect, Wallace Rayfield.
“It was a church that was targeted early and made them condemn and tear down the original church and rebuild this church here,” education director for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Charles Woods said.
The current church was constructed in 1911. Woods says 16th Street Baptist Church served as an important meeting place for the civil rights movement.
“If you wanted to talk in Birmingham and you wanted a large crowd, you came to 16th Street Baptist Church that includes W.E.B. Dubois, gospel singers, as well as other black leaders,” said Woods.
The city of Birmingham is commemorating the 1960s civil rights movement through events apart of the Forging Justice Commemoration Week. Pastor of 16th Street Baptist Church, Reverend Arthur Price, hopes people understand how the events and demonstrations from the civil rights movement impacted the nation and the resiliency of 16th Street Baptist Church.
“Many gates came against this church, but they shall not prevail, and the weapons that came against us did not prosper; we’re still standing, we’re still standing as a testimony today,” Price said.