Four Little Girls: The Collins Girls - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

The Collins Girls

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Addie Mae Collins, about 7 or 8 years old. Photo courtesy of her sister, Sara Collins Rudolph. Addie Mae Collins, about 7 or 8 years old. Photo courtesy of her sister, Sara Collins Rudolph.
Sara Collins Rudolph is pictured in the hospital after the bombing. Collins Rudolph said she was instantly blinded by the bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church. Sara Collins Rudolph is pictured in the hospital after the bombing. Collins Rudolph said she was instantly blinded by the bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church.
This is Addie Mae Collins headstone at Birmingham's Greenwood Cemetery. It remains just a symbol after the family discovered someone else's remains in what was thought to be Addie's grave. It remains unknown where she is buried. This is Addie Mae Collins headstone at Birmingham's Greenwood Cemetery. It remains just a symbol after the family discovered someone else's remains in what was thought to be Addie's grave. It remains unknown where she is buried.

Nineteen-sixty-three - a  pivotal time in the Civil Rights Movement.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's letter from the Birmingham jail, the Children's Marches, the March on Washington, and then this...

Sara Collins Rudolph was 12 years old when several men thought to be members of the KKK set off that bomb right outside the women's bathroom at 16th Street Baptist Church September 15th, 1963.

Bombing Survivor, Sara Collins Rudolph said, "And I heard that noise... boom. I said Jesus real fast, then Addie, Addie, Addie, but she never did answer."

Fourteen-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Morris Wesley, Carole Robertson, and 11-year-old Denise McNair died that day.

Sara Collins Rudolph was the fifth little girl.

That day - not only did Sara lose a sister and three friends, but debris hit her eyes - scarring her for life.

Collins Rudolph said, "They took the bandages off, and the doctor asked me, what do I see out my right eye, and told him, I couldn't see nothing. Then he took it off my left eye, I could see a little light. I was blinded instantly in my right eye."

Three of the four little girls, Cynthia, Carole and Sara's sister Addie were buried here at Greenwood Cemetery. But in the late '90's when the family wanted to move Addie to a different resting place, the family's grief was compounded, when her grave was dug up, and it was discovered, it wasn't Addie.

Collins Rudolph said, "I used to like to take flowers and set it on her grave when I thought she was there, then found out she wasn't there, it hurt."

Sara never had children, but she has plenty of nieces and nephews. She covers scars with makeup, told me she still jumps at loud noises and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. That hasn't stopped her from participating in events this week, marking what the city calls, 50 years forward.

But she's not sure the country - when it comes to race relations - has moved forward.

Collins Rudolph said, "I can still feel some of the hate, like for instance, people closing doors up in my face, I can just feel it. I can tell that it's still there but it's not like it was because, they couldn't do so much out in the open, like they was doing then."

But Sara has moved forward although the events of this week make her anxious.

She went to Washington earlier this week, to receive a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of her sister.

So as the world reflects on that day, 50 years ago...

Collins Rudolph said, "They should remember the fact that, how blacks had to fight for our justice."

And the little girls that died that day, including Sara's older sister, Addie, who loved to draw and play baseball with the neighborhood kids.

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