BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Sculptor Elizabeth MacQueen’s roots go back to the early days of steel in Alabama.
Her great grandfather was the CEO at Sloss-Sheffield for a short period of time.
“I grew up in Mountain Brook and it was an enclave of nothing bad came there,” MacQueen said.
MacQueen would come of age at a time when race determined so much about the daily life of people in 1963. Race dictated where people could or could not go. It dictated what people could or could not do.
During that time, Carolyn McKinstry was coming of age across town from where MacQueen lived.
McKinstry was at the 16th Street Baptist Church on the day it was bombed in 1963. Four little girls died that day – girls that McKinstry had spoken to just minutes before the blast.
She walked by the girls restroom and spoke with two of the girls who died just minutes before the bomb went off.
“The church was bombed on Sunday, I went home Monday morning, I went to school at 8 o’clock. We didn’t talk about it at school,” McKinstry explained.
MacQueen remembers hearing about the bombing the next Monday when she went to school.
“That following Monday at Mountain Brook Junior High School we all heard about the girls in the church,” said MacQueen.
McKinstry has spent the last few decades of her life talking about how to move past the hate-filled bombing in Birmingham. She’s written a book on the experience and details these explanations in the book.
Her discussions on the importance of getting past the bombings are, in a way, how she and MacQueen happened to cross paths.
McKinstry is on a committee designed to give Birmingham a fitting memorial to the victims of the bombing: Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins and Denise McNair.
They chose MacQueen, a renown sculptor from Mountain Brook, Alabama, whose story looks past hate to find hope, much like McKinstry’s.
“I was very convinced that it was very personal for Elizabeth MacQueen,” McKinstry commented. “She is one of Birmingham’s children, just as these four girls are.”
To view the FBI documents related to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, click here.
Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42