Published on September 20, 2022 by Diamond Nunnally  
Lisa McNair
Lisa McNair poses with new book, "Dear Denise: Letters to the Sister I Never Knew." (Courtesy: WBHM)

More than 50 years ago, on Sept. 15, 1963, four black girls were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in the 16th Street Church Bombing in Birmingham. Four families were left to deal with the grief and aftermath of that tragic day. 57-year-old Lisa McNair, the sister of the 11-year-old victim, Denise McNair, never met her sister. She was born a year later, but her death will forever be in her memory. 

"I cannot recall a time when I didn't know about you and how you died. is my first and oldest memory. It is a strange feeling to have a sister who died before you were born, especially in such a tragic and public way, and this feeling has been and always will be a part of who I am. Your death thrust all of us, Mamma, Daddy, Kim, and me, into the surreal limelight of history,"  Lisa McNair wrote in her book, Dear Denise: Letters to the Sister I Never Knew. 

On Monday, Oct. 3, McNair will come to Samford to share her story with her new book, Dear Denise: Letters to the Sister I Never Knew, at 3 p.m. in Harry's Coffeehouse at University Center. The book reflects on her life after the tragedy in a newly-integrated Birmingham. From 3-3:30 p.m., McNair will talk about the book and then participate in a Q and A with Howard College of Arts and Sciences Dean Timothy Hall. McNair will also be available for a book signing from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

"Lisa has a poignant and compelling story, and she tells it so well, both in print and in person. Every time I hear her speak, I find myself drawn in by her warm personality, her candor, her ability to connect with an audience, and her unswerving hope for our future together. Come prepared to be challenged, educated, and inspired by her message," said Howard College of Arts and Sciences Dean Timothy Hall. 

Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences and The Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives is hosting the event. All are welcome to attend. 

"This discussion allows our students and employees the opportunity to have conversations with Ms. McNair as she shares her personal and heartfelt story," said Student Success and Diversity and Inclusion Associate Provost Denise Gregory. 



Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.