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Maxine McNair: Mother of Denise McNair, Passes Away

Maxine McNair: Mother of Denise McNair, Passes Away

The last living parent of one of the four children killed in the terrorist bombing of an African-American church in 1963 has died at the age of 93. Maxine McNair died on Sunday, Jan. 2, at the age of 93, her family announced. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin also confirmed that Maxine McNair died on Sunday.
Denise McNair, one of the four young girls killed at the 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, was McNair’s mother.

Maxine McNair: The Last Living Parent of One of The Four

“Mrs. McNair was a matriarch of social justice in our city, an incredible wife and mother who imparted love and wisdom on hundreds of young minds while serving 33 years in the Birmingham public school system,” Woodfin wrote on Facebook.

Carol Denise McNair, 11, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, Addie Mae Collins, 14, and Carole Robertson, 14, were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church explosion on Sept. 15, 1963.

McNair was in the choir loft when the bomb exploded. Unaware that her daughter was buried under the rubble, she jumped up to find her. Denise wouldn’t be seen again until she and her husband identified the body of their only child at the hospital.

“I couldn’t stop screaming for several days,” McNair recalled decades after the tragedy. “They had to give me an injection to calm my nerves.”

1963 Terrorist Bombing of an African American Baptist Church to Prevent Equal Rights

Former US senator from Alabama Doug Jones, the lead prosecutor in the case against two of the four Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the bombing, told CNN on Monday that McNair had cognitive issues and had lost her sight several years ago.
Funeral plans are being finalized with McNair’s daughter.

Maxine McNair, the last living parent of any of the four Black girls killed in a 1963 church bombing in Alabama, has died. Her family announced her death in a press release. No cause of death was given.

The first Ku Klux Klan member was convicted in 1977, and two more were convicted in the early 2000s. For more than three decades, Maxine McNair taught in Birmingham public schools. Her daughter, Lisa McNair, said she changed many lives through education and left a lasting legacy on the students she touched.

Maxine McNair: A Community Servant, Amazing Wife, Loving Mother

“Mrs. McNair was an amazing wife and mother and as a teacher of 33 years in the Birmingham public school system imparted knowledge in the lives of hundreds. We are going to miss her laughter and her humor. The family would appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers,” one family statement said.

Chris McNair, Maxine McNair’s husband, died in 2019 at the age of 93. Among the first Black members of the Alabama legislature since Reconstruction, he was also a Jefferson County commissioner. Maxine McNair attended an Oval Office ceremony in 2013 in which President Barack Obama awarded the four girls the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the country’s highest civilian honors.

Brown v. the Board of Education Destroys Plessy v. Ferguson

During her career as a teacher, Maxine McNair taught in Birmingham public schools for approximately 33 years. Lisa McNair, her daughter, said she changed lives through education and left a lasting legacy through her students.

Sarah Collins Rudolph, the fifth girl and sister of Addie Mae Collins, was blinded in one eye by the blast. She later provided testimony that led to the convictions of the men accused of planting the bomb.

Birmingham was in the midst of desegregating its public schools when the church was bombed. The four girls became emblems of the racist hatred that emanated from much of the opposition to equal rights.

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