‘Fifth Girl’ from Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing reflects on the tragedy 58 years later

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — One of the civil rights era’s darkest moments was in Birmingham on September 15, 1963, when four girls were killed when a bomb went off at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

Sarah Collins Rudolph, whose sister Addie Mae Collins was one of the four girls who died that day, was one of the survivors of the explosion and said her life was forever changed after that day. Rudolph hopes people take the time to honor and reflect on their lives and legacy.

Rudolph remembers Addie, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Carol Denise McNair being very loving and smart. Yet 58 year later, she is still saddened that their lives were so senselessly taken. Since their deaths, Rudolph has worked to ensure their legacies lives on and their memories are never forgotten.

“The civil rights bill was passed and voting bills right bill was passed,” Rudolph said. “The girls’ life was laid down so that we can have the freedom that we have and everyone should remember those girls.”

The memorial ceremony to honor the four girls’ lives and legacy begins at 10 a.m. at Sixteenth Street Baptist church. Downtown, church bells will ring at 10:22 a.m., the exact time the bomb went off.

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