NHCC Gets History Lesson on 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing
When four young girls died in the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama church bombing, it was a defining moment in our nation’s Civil Rights Movement.
Lisa McNair’s 11-year old sister, Denise, was one of the victims. On Monday McNair was at North Hennepin Community College to tell her story and look back at those trying times.
“Dr. King at the eulogy of my sister said that we must substitute courage for caution,” McNair said. “That was what they needed to do back then and that’s what we need to do now..”
The church bombing rocked Birmingham, the Deep South and the country.
“It was pivotal in the change of Birmingham,” McNair said.
For McNair it was painful and personal
“My sister Denise was the youngest of the four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963,” McNair said.
McNair was born almost exactly one year after losing a sister she never knew.
“I feel it’s my life to share her story,” McNair said, “And see that she’s never forgotten and the other four girls are never forgotten.”
McNair’s presence was part of North Hennepin’s Black History Month.
“This is a really big deal,” said Michael Birchard, North Hennepin’s diversity and affirmative action officer.
McNair’s message was simple.
“Each one of us needs to be an advocate for peace and what’s right in this country,” McNair said. “When we see wrong in this country we need to say it.”
McNair still lives in Birmingham and refuses to let anger or bitterness destroy her.
“My dad always believed in our justice system,” McNair said.
She is positive and upbeat, and connects with people of all backgrounds.
“As soon as Lisa walked in the door she’s hugging students, talking to people wanting to know what’s going on in our community,” Birchard said.
“We’re more alike than we are different,” McNair said. “Keep that in mind when we meet people who are not like us, meet people who don’t look like us, live like us, think like us.”
McNair will be speaking in other parts of the Twin Cities this week.