Maxine McNair: Last Living Parent of Alabama Church Bombing Victim Dies

In Summary

Maxine McNair, the last living parent of one of the four little girls killed in a horrific bombing in Alabama in 1963, has died at 93. 

WARNING: This story contains discussions of racism and terrorism. 

Maxine McNair, the last living parent of any of the children killed in the terrorist bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, has died, per CNN. She was 93. 

Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin celebrated McNair’s life and legacy in a Facebook post, saying she and her family have given so much to the city and they’re “forever grateful for their service and sacrifice.” 

RELATED: 1963 church bombing survivor seeks apology, restitution 

“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,” he said. 

Denise McNair, McNair’s daughter, was in the bathroom with Addie Mae Collins, Carole Rosamond Robertson and Cynthia Dionne Wesley when a dynamite bomb exploded in the back stairwell of the downtown 16th Street Baptist Church on Sunday, September 15, 1963. The four girls were killed and more than 20 others were injured, per FBI records

McNair was said to be in the church’s choir stand on the day of the bombing, but was unharmed in the blast. Lisa and Kimberly, her only two children, have previously said their parents refused to divulge any details about the bombing that killed their sister before they were born. 

Maxine McNair Dies
FILE – Christopher McNair, center left, and Maxine McNair, right, parents of Denise McNair, one of four African American girls who died in a church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., Sept. 15, hold a news conference at a hotel, Sept. 20, 1963, in New York. Maxine McNair, the last living parent of any of the children killed in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, died Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. She was 93. (AP Photo/File)

Robert E. Chambliss was convicted in 1977, and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas E. Blanton, Jr. in 2001, making a total of three Ku Klux Klan members found guilty in the bombing. A fourth suspect, Herman Frank Cash, died in 1994. 

RELATED: Claudette Colvin’s Record Expunged After Refusal To Give Seat to White Person 

“To many [Maxine McNair] was simply the mother of Denise McNair, one of the four little girls,” said Birmingham City Council President Wardine Alexander, per “To us … she was neighbor, friend, and long-time educator. She will forever be etched in our hearts as a matriarch of social justice and Birmingham Civil Rights.”

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by racism and terrorism, resources are available here.

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