BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) — The father of one of four black U.S. girls killed in a racist church bombing in 1963 was home after being granted an early release from prison requested by the Obama administration, his lawyer said Friday.

Chris McNair, 87, likely will attend observances next month of the 50th anniversary of the attack, which shocked Americans into deeper awareness of blacks' long struggle for equality and the hatred among some Southern whites.

The 1963 bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, killed Denise McNair and three other girls at 16th Street Baptist Church. Members of the racist Ku Klux Klan group were convicted for the attack.

Decades later, Chris McNair was convicted of accepting bribes as a county commissioner and entered prison in 2011 after losing a bid to remain free because of his age and health. He suffered a minor stroke in 2008.

A judge approved the Obama administration's request to free McNair on Thursday on grounds of compassion. He was reunited with his wife and two daughters late Thursday, defense attorney Doug Jones said.

Jones described McNair as upbeat. He had spent the last two years at a federal prison medical facility.

Events are planned next month in Birmingham to mark the anniversary of the bombing.

"I believe that he will attend certain functions," Jones said. He declined to comment on McNair's specific health problems but said many are linked to aging.

Mayor William Bell told reporters McNair will be welcome.

 

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