This year marks the 50th anniversary of the  brutal 1963 bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.  Four little girls – Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair and Addie Mae Collins lost their lives that day at the hands of the KKK. This week, bipartisan lawmakers have announced the pursuit of the Congressional Medal of Honor for the victims.

What you may not know is that there was a lone survivor of the 16th Street bombing, Sarah Collins Rudolph. She is the younger sister of bombing victim Addie Mae Collins. Rudolph lost an eye in the attack and stood in shock, broken and bleeding after the bomb went off. She was whisked to the nearest hospital. After the attack, then twelve-year old Rudolph was told to put the experience behind her. The “fifth little girl” has not been a part of the decades of conversation surrounding the incident.

Though Rudolph is now 63 years old, she is reminded of the attacks everyday with visual scars and a startling fear of loud noises. She is still haunted by medical expenses related to September 15, 1953. Unfortunately, she and her husband have been bogged down with existing medical bills that have been denied by the Birmingham City Council. They have publicly compared her experience to the bombing of the World Trade Center and would like the same concessions or reparations offered to victims of terrorist bombings. The city has been unresponsive to their request.

This year is not only a memorable year for the bombing at 16th Street Baptist church, but it also commemorates the fire-hose incidents of the civil rights movement in Birmingham and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

(Photo: AP)

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6 thoughts on “Little Known Black History Fact: Sarah Collins Rudolph

  1. Stephanie Engle on said:

    Sarah Collins and Fate Morris: Sarah & Fate lost their sisters: Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia MORRIS (aka Wesley) in the bombing, detonated by hatred and intolerance. What you don’t know is this:

    Sarah tried to have Addie’s remains relocated to a cemetery closer to their home. When her body was exhumed, the casket contained the body of an older female with dentures! (I’m not kidding. As a parent or sibling – can you imagine this?)

    Fate Morris’ family has been trying for decades to straighten out the historical record but they have been rebuffed by white refusal; saying allow Cynthia to die a Wesley! Cynthia’s surname is Morris. She was not only a victim of murder, but identity theft in a sense! (Again, from a parental perspective; I do not know how the family has even survived emotionally.)

    The State of Alabama recognizes the fact that Cynthia Dionne Wesley is REALLY Cynthia Diane Morris! Why won’t anyone else?

  2. I have been blessed to do an reenactment of a character from the UGRR! I have studied our history extensively and I am sad that I never ever heard Sarah’s story. I will read about it now!

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