*Sarah Collins Rudolph was 12-years-old when Ku Klux Klan members bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama on Sept. 15, 1963, killing her sister, and three other Black girls.
Rudolph “never received an apology, support, medical care, counseling or any kind of help or acknowledgement from the state for her injuries,” her lawyers said in a letter to Gov. Kay Ivey.
The letter notes that at the time of the bombing, state officials and segregationist Gov. George Wallace, “played an undisputed role in encouraging its citizens to engage in racial violence, including the violence that stole the lives of four little girls, and irreparably injured a fifth.”
The letter adds that Collins Rudolph “has born the burdens of the bombing for virtually her entire life, and we believe her story presents an especially meritorious and unique opportunity for the State of Alabama to right the wrongs that its past leaders encouraged and incited.”
After 57 years and multiple pleas for an apology and compensation, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey apologized to Sarah Collins Rudolph, the survivor of the 1963 KKK bombing of a Birmingham church — but didn’t commit to financial restitution.https://t.co/6Fr61bQhnp
— NPR (@NPR) October 1, 2020
On Wednesday, Gov. Ivey apologized to Collins Rudolph in a letter sent to her lawyers, and welcomed negotiations as Collins Rudolph seeks compensation from the state. Ivey offered a “sincere, heartfelt apology” for the “racist, segregationist rhetoric used by some of our leaders during that time.”
Ivey acknowledged that Collins Rudolph and the four other girls “suffered an egregious injustice that has yielded untold pain and suffering over the ensuing decades.”
“It would seem to me that beginning these conversations — without prejudice for what any final outcome might produce but with a goal of finding mutual accord — would be a natural extension of my Administration’s ongoing efforts to foster fruitful conversations about the all-too-difficult — and sometimes painful — topic of race, a conversation occurring not only in Alabama but throughout America,” Ivey wrote.
Collins Rudolph lost her right eye in the bombing and glass fragments remained in her left eye, abdomen and her chest for years after, according to The Associated Press.
Her sister, 14-year-old sister Addie Mae Collins, was killed, as well as Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson, also 14, and Denise McNair, 11.
Rudolph Collins’ lawyers said they were “gratified” by the governor’s apology and looking forward to talks about compensation.