BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Friday marks the 54th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Four little girls were killed.
Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Carol Denise McNair were heading to sing with the church choir when at approximately at 10:22 when a bomb went off.
Four suspected members of the Ku Klux Klan planted 19 sticks of dynamite outside the basement of the church.
Not many people realize there was a fifth little girl also there that day. Sarah Collins Rudolph is the younger sister of Addie Mae. She was injured during the bombing but survived.
“I remember how we walked to church that morning we were having such a good time it was my sister Janie and Addie and we just walked we were having so much fun all the way Janie had a purse and we were throwing it,” said Rudolph.
Rudolph was just 12 years old when her sister was killed. She tells CB42 she doesn’t feel comfortable at the church at all.
“It always still brings a lot of pain hurt because what happened on the 15th 1963, it was something that was horrible and something that should’ve never happened,” she said.
Collins is coming out with a book in about two weeks titled, “The Fifth Little Girl: Soul Survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing.
When asked about the current state of race relations in America, Rudolph told CBS42 she’s seeing a lot of the same hate now that she saw back in the 60’s.
“It’s about loving one another because racism doesn’t bring on nothing but hurt and death so it’s just time for us to look at the fact that we’re all human beings. We shouldn’t look at color,” said Collins.
Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones is known for his prosecution of the Klansmen responsible for the bombing.
In 2001 and 2002, then U.S. Attorney Jones prosecuted Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry on four counts of murder. Both were sentenced to life in prison.
Jones reopened the investigation into the church bombing over three decades after the tragic incident.
You’re invited to a special anniversary observance ceremony at 10 a.m. at the 16th Street Baptist Church.