Inspired: The Wales Window of Alabama

Colourful stained glass window depicting a black man as Jesus
  Memorial window at the 16th Street Baptist Church, from the people of Wales after the 1963 bombing. Photo: National Geographic Image Collection / Alamy

On 16th September 1963, a bomb exploded in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Planted by a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan, it killed four young girls who were attending Sunday school – Cynthia Westley, Carol Robertson, Denise McMair and Addie-May Collins – and seriously injured many more. The nation was shocked and this incident became a catalyst for the Civil Rights Act a year later.

Welsh artist John Petts was so moved, he launched a newspaper campaign to raise money to replace the stained glass windows of the church with a message, ‘From the people of Wales’ and an image of a Black Christ figure pushing away hatred and injustice. Black and white children queued up in Tiger Bay, Cardiff to donate their pocket money. The window still stands today as a living reminder of the horrors of the violence of Birmingham, Alabama, and the bonds of friendship that grew out of it.

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