Thursday marks 59 years since the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Sarah Collins Rudolph’s sister, Addie May Collins, died with three other Black girls in the explosion: Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Rosamond Robertson.
Rudolph lost an eye and still has pieces of glass inside her body from the attack. Sadly, she’s still waiting on the state to pay her for her injuries. Two years ago, Governor Kay Ivey declined her any financial compensation. She apologized for Rudolph’s “untold pain and suffering” but insisted that legislative involvement was needed.
Despite the work of Rudolph’s legal team, nothing has been done which is infuriating when you consider that the even though victims of other attacks, like 9/11, received some sort of compensation. She will meet with President Joe Biden at the White House for a summit about fighting hate-fueled violence on Thursday, the anniversary of the bombing.
Rudolph has stated that she still has medical expenses from the incident. One of them includes a $90 bill she gets every couple of months for work on the prosthetic she wears in place of the right eye that was destroyed by shrapnel from the attack.
The three Klan members convicted of murder in the bombing years later wound up dying in prison. In addition, a fourth suspect died without being charged. Even though Rudolph received nothing from the state, the church itself has received government money for renovations.
The Alabama Crime Victims’ Compensation Commission assists victims and families with expenses related to a crime. However, state law doesn’t allow it to address offenses that happened before the agency was created in 1984.