The Wales Window of Alabama

In 1963, racist bombers blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, four teenage girls were killed in the blast and the murders were a new low in the fight for civil rights.

The news of the bombing spread around the world, sitting in his studio in Wales was the sculptor John Petts, as he listened to the radio in his studio, he became so upset he resolved to do something about it.

He contacted his local newspaper and set up a fund to help rebuild the devastated Church. To ensure that nobody could take credit for the money raised, no one benefactor was allowed to give more than a small amount and soon children, black and white were queuing up in the Welsh capital, Cardiff to donate their pocket money.
With the money that was raised, Petts was commissioned to make a new stained glass window for the Church. It depicted a black man, arms out stretched, reminiscent of the crucifixion, Petts drew on his experiences as a medic in the Second World War to create his image of the 'damaged male body'. Inspiration also came from the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, which had happened only a few years earlier.

The window is now a focus of worship and a symbol of the dark and deadly days of the civil rights period. At its foot a simple message; 'Given by The People of Wales'.

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28 minutes

Last on

Sun 24 Jun 2012 19:32 GMT