Four Spirits


Four Spirits install – City workers prepare to install the statue of Carole Robertson, at left, on Thursday at the northwest entrance to Kelly Ingram Park, across from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The statue is part of a memorial called Four Spirits, a tribute to the four girls killed in the Sept. 15, 1963 bombing of the church. The main part of the memorial, which features the other three girls – Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley – is at right, having already been installed and wrapped in blue plastic tarp. The memorial is to be formally unveiled on Saturday.

by Tom Gordon

The Four Spirits memorial is now wrapped in blue tarp and awaiting its unveiling on Saturday, and workers were expected to take some additional measures this afternoon to stabilize the main part of the 3,000-pound, bronze and steel sculpture.

“I believe it will be fine, but it’s better to put that extra support on it,” said a city worker who was at the scene. “It should have been on it to start with.”

Workers said the main portion of the sculpture, at its highest points, could be moved slightly back and forth. Over time, a worker said, the memorial will be buffeted by wind and feel the additional weight of climbing children.

“You can get up there and shake it at the top, and that’s what we were worried about,” the worker said.

The memorial is a tribute to four girls – Denise McNair, 11, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, all 14 – who were killed in the Sept. 15, 1963 bombing at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The memorial has life-size statues of the four girls, and smaller acknowledgements of Virgil Ware and Johnny Robinson, two young men who were shot and killed in separate incidents that followed the bombing.

Fashioned in four months by Birmingham-born sculptor Elizabeth MacQueen, the memorial was installed on Thursday at the northwest entrance to Kelly Ingram Park, across from the church. The main part of the sculpture, which weighs about 2,500 pounds, has three of the girls on a bench. The other part of the memorial is a statue of Carole Robertson, who is standing a short distance away and motioning toward the other girls, as if to summon them to the church service for which all them were preparing on the day they were killed.

A worker said the Robertson statue is solidly anchored in place.

“That  thing was done good,” the worker said. “It’s on a 13-inch pedestal … with a big stainless steel plate, plus another plate underneath it.”

Four Spirits Friday – The Four Spirits memorial, wrapped in blue tarp and behind a chain link fence at the northwest entrance to Kelly Ingram Park.

Four Spirits Friday – The Four Spirits memorial, wrapped in blue tarp and behind a chain link fence at the northwest entrance to Kelly Ingram Park.

“It would (take) a car to knock it down,” the worker added.

As for the main part of the memorial, the worker said crews were going “to build some brackets to go on the legs on the bench part, and they’ll [be] anchored in the concrete too … That will stabilize it in a different point.”

City crews, with assistance from CraneWorks, anchored both parts of the memorial on Thursday. When the installation was done, workers put blue tarp around both parts and put a chain link fence around them.

Saturday’s unveiling is scheduled for 4 p.m. The keynote speaker is expected to be the Rev.  Joseph Lowery, president emeritus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

 

 

 

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