Monday, a painting of the four little girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963 was unveiled at the Birmingham Civil Right's institute.
The commemoration marks the first of several in Empowerment Week. The week culminates with the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
17-year-old Willie Williams, a student at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, created the artwork. Wells Fargo commissioned the piece.
The painting was presented to Mayor William Bell for permanent display at Birmingham City Hall.
Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley were killed September 15th 1963, when the Klux Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church. The incident shocked the nation and mobilized the civil right's movement.
Several dignitaries were present at the ceremony, including Harold McNair, Denise's Uncle. "It was great and I just like to compliment Willie on the job that he did. It's just unbelievable the likeness is the same," McNair said. "I really give him a lot of credit for what he's done."
Mayor Bell expressed his hope that the second time the world's eyes will be focused on Birmingham, the city can put forward a different image. "50 years ago, the world's eyes watched us and it was not a good scene. I try to tell people that yes, we're going to have the black and white video of the dogs and hose pipes and the church that was blown up." Bell said. "But what I want people to understand is that good men and women came together after that to say we must make a change in our society."
Bell sees Monday's art unveiling and all empowerment events as an opportunity to showcase the Magic City as a world class town with plans for even more development.
The four little girls were honored with Congressional Gold Medals of Honor posthumously. A Tuesday ceremony will celebrate the honors.
Hilary Golston will have more at 5 and 6 tonight.
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