Maxine McNair, the last living parent of the four girls killed in a 1963 Alabama church bombing, passed away on Sunday, NPR reports. She was 93.
McNair’s passing was confirmed by her family in a press release. A cause of death was not given.
11-year-old Denise McNair was the youngest girl killed in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, one of the deadliest acts of racial terrorism attack during the civil rights movement. Also killed in the blast were three 14-year-olds: Addie Mae Collins, Carole Rosamond Robertson, and Cynthia Dionne Wesley.
A fifth girl and sister of Addie Mae Collins, Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was blinded in one eye by the blast, later helped to convict the men who planted the bomb with her testimony
Years later, three members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted of the hate crime, the first in 1977 and two more in the early 2000s.
In 2013, McNair was in attendance at an Oval Office ceremony where President Barack Obama awarded the four girls the Congressional Gold Medal.
For over 30 years, McNair worked as a teacher in the Birmingham public school system. Lisa McNair, her daughter, lauded her mother’s passion for education and the impact she had on countless students.
“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,” the family’s statement read.”We are going to miss her laughter and her humor. The family would appreciate all of your thoughts and prayer.”
In 2019, Chris McNair, Maxine’s husband, passed away at the age of 93. He became one of the first Black members of the Alabama legislature since Reconstruction and a Jefferson County commissioner.
Arrangements for a memorial service celebrating Maxine McNair’s life are currently being planned.
We extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Maxine McNair.