Maxine McNair, the final living parent of one of the four Black girls killed in the 1963 Alabama church bombing, passed away on Sunday (Jan. 2) at 93 years old.
“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,” McNair’s family said in a statement.
McNair was the mother of Carol Denise McNair, an 11-year old who was killed at the 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. The attack became one of the deadliest of the civil rights movement. Also killed in the bombing were three 14-year-olds — Addie Mae, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson. The girls, along with — Mae’s sister Sarah Collins Rudolph — were in the church’s basement bathroom when the bomb, which was planted by local KKK members, exploded. Rudolph survived the attack, however, she lost an eye.
McNair was in the church’s choir loft when the bomb detonated. She immediately tried to find her daughter. Sadly, she didn’t see her child again until she and her husband had to identify her lifeless body at the hospital.
“I couldn’t stop screaming for several days,” McNair recalled when speaking about that day decades later. “They had to give me an injection to calm my nerves.”
“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,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said in a post on Facebook.
“The McNair family has given so much to our city and we are forever grateful for their service and sacrifice,” he added.
The REVOLT team would like to send our thoughts and prayers to McNair’s family and friends. May she rest in peace.