BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Four Spirits sculpture has become a place to remember the victims of the racially motivated violence in Birmingham on September 15, 1963.
On that day four girls were killed. Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair died as the result of a bomb blast at the 16th St. Baptist Church. A fifth girl in the room survived the bomb that Ku Klux Klan members set off just before youth Sunday services were set to begin.
That same day, two teenage boys were killed in separate shootings in Birmingham. Johnnie Robinson and Virgil Ware are also remembered in the sculpture.
It is the work of Birmingham native and artist Elizabeth MacQueen. The city unveiled The Four Spirits during the 50th year commemoration of the 1963 events and sacrifices in Birmingham that led to pivotal change in the United States.
Former Birmingham Mayor William Bell returned to the statue this year, on the 58th anniversary of the bombing.
“My mind goes back to the where the children of Israel were told to take a stone from each tribe with them, and that stone was to remind them of the sacrifices were made by the children of Israel and the enslavement that they had in Egypt,” said Bell.
“This represents our stone keeping the memory alive of the four young girls that were killed that fateful Sunday morning. That allowed us to be able to stand right here right now and do what we’re doing. I would have never been in City Hall were it not for the sacrifices that they, along with their families, made. And we can’t forget that.”