Church Bombing Survivor


Sarah Collins Rudolph is the lone survivor of a 1963 Alabama church bombing that killed four black girls said she wants millions in compensation for her injuries and won’t accept a top congressional award proposed to honor the victims.

In interview with The Associated Press, Rudolph said she feels forgotten 50 years after the blast shocked the nation. Rudolph lost an eye in the Sept. 16, 1963 bombing at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and says she never got restitution.

“We haven’t received anything, and I lost an eye,” said Rudolph, who lives north of Birmingham. “They just want to throw a medal at us.”

Congress is considering whether to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the four girls who died: 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, and 11-year-old Denise McNair. Addie Mae was the sister of Rudolph, who was 12 at the time and was in a downstairs washroom with the four girls when the blast occurred. At least two dozen others were injured.

The brother of Cynthia Wesley said he isn’t interested in the award either and wants compensation, partly because history didn’t even record his sister’s name correctly.

Juries convicted three Ku Klux Klansmen in the bombing years later, and one suspected accomplice died without ever having been charged; one of the four is still in prison and the others are dead.

But Rudolph said she still hasn’t gotten justice like other crime victims who receive restitution payments.

“My sister was killed and I lost my eye. Why should I be any different?” said Rudolph, who says she still suffers from painful memories, physical scars and posttraumatic stress syndrome.

Rudolph said she wants compensation “in the millions” for her injuries and the death of Addie Mae, but she hasn’t settled on an exact amount.

Fate Morris said he also will refuse the medal and wants compensation like Rudolph for the death of his sister, typically referred to as Cynthia Wesley. Morris said her real name was Cynthia Morris, and no medal will replace the mistake.

“It’s a smoke screen to shut us up and make us go away so we’ll never be heard from again,” Morris told AP.


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  • Anthony

    I have always said that if Holocaust victims are still getting paid, victims of racist lynching and other forms of violence deserve restitution too.

    The is nothing more hollow than a bunch of white men handing out medals fifty years after the fact to old people when they refuse to use their power to do justice to current issues and allow future generations to grow up under injustice.

  • Kenzy

    Who would be paying them the restitution? and who pays the holocaust survivors? the country of germany? i have never heard this before.

    • Anthony

      Germany does indeed pay Holocaust victims reparations . In all of the South, governments allowed racial violence to occur, and they should be on the hook for allowing terrorism.

  • I don’t know how I feel about this. True..she didn’t receive anything except her life until now, but at least now someone is recognizing her. I’m not sure what the millions are all about, but how does that change anything? She gets millions and THEN we forget about her, just as long as she capitalizes. You know I don’t mean that in a bad way, but she already thinks people have forgotten about her.

    I truly feel for her and her story was/is a terrible one, but I don’t know that money is the answer.

  • Pearl

    Hello,you sound young with very little knownledge of what these folks went through to help you and I to arrive where we are today. No,this United States will never be able to give this lady back what she personally lost or even her community.However,the united states and really the state of Alabama owe her family resitution which is long overdue.The Boston Bombing earlier this week that city may have a lawsuit on their hands because of this horrific act of volience that was made on that city how is this different from what Mrs.Sarah C, Rudolph experience? Please think about it. Thank you