BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Even after five decades, Harold McNair can vividly recall fond moments he shared with his niece Denise. She was one of the four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963.
“I would call her on the phone and tell her that I was down at the bus station, that I want her to come pick me up, and when she knew it was me she just jumped in my arms,” McNair said of his niece.
On Monday morning, Well Fargo honored those young lives with a painting.
The bank offered a deserving student the opportunity to capture the spirit of those girls with a painting. William Williams from the Alabama School of Fine Arts was the lucky student who was chosen.
“I felt like they weren’t just a part of the [civil rights movement] in Birmingham, but they were a part of the movement as a whole, so I wanted to capture the spirit of the whole movement,” Williams explained.
The masterpiece will take a place of honor in Birmingham City Hall.
Birmingham Mayor William Bell says the painting is a symbol of strength and a reminder of just how far the city has come.
“We stand together, black and white people of all different religions because of what happened in 1963,” Mayor Bell said.
Congressman Spencer Bachus was also in attendance and was instrumental in getting the four girls honored.
As for Harold McNair, though, he says the artwork gives his family great joy.
“It’s just unbelievable how the likeness is the same as the pictures that we’ve been seeing all along, and it’s just great,” McNair said.