AP

Alabama sidesteps compensation for survivor of ’63 KKK blast

Sep 14, 2022, 10:25 PM | Updated: Sep 16, 2022, 8:59 am

President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in...

President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Sarah Collins Rudolph lost an eye and still has pieces of glass inside her body from a Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed her sister and three other Black girls at an Alabama church 59 years ago, and she’s still waiting on the state to compensate her for those injuries.

Gov. Kay Ivey sidestepped the question of financial compensation two years ago in apologizing to Rudolph for her “untold pain and suffering,” saying legislative involvement was needed. But nothing has been done despite the efforts of attorneys representing Rudolph, leaving unresolved the question of payment even though victims of other attacks, including 9/11, were compensated.

Rudolph, known as the “Fifth Little Girl” for surviving the infamous attack on 16th Street Baptist Church, which was depicted in Spike Lee’s 1997 documentary “4 Little Girls,” has been rankled by the state’s inaction.

Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, Rudolph said then-Gov. George C. Wallace helped lay the groundwork for the Klan attack with his segregationist rhetoric, and the state bears some responsibility for the bombing, which wasn’t prosecuted for years.

“If they hadn’t stirred up all that racist hate that was going on at the time I don’t believe that church would have been bombed,” said Rudolph.

Rudolph attended a White House summit about combatting hate-fueled violence on Thursday, the anniversary of the bombing, and was recognized by President Joe Biden.

“I visited the church on this day in 2019, and I’ll visit with you and always remember what happened,” Biden told Rudolph.

In Birmingham, hundreds gathered at the church for a commemorative service and wreath-laying at the spot where the bomb went off.

Rudolph said she still incurs medical expenses from the explosion, including a $90 bill she gets every few months for work on the prosthetic she wears in place of the right eye that was destroyed by shrapnel on Sept. 15, 1963. Anything would help, but Rudolph believes she’s due millions.

Ishan Bhabha, an attorney representing Rudolph, said the state’s apology — made at Rudolph’s request along with a plea for restitution — was only meant as a first step.

“She deserves justice in the form of compensation for the grievous injuries, and costs, she has had to bear for almost 60 years,” he said. “We will continue to pursue any available avenues to get Sarah the assistance she needs and deserves.”

Five girls were gathered in a downstairs bathroom at 16th Street Baptist Church when a bomb planted by KKK members went off outside, blowing a huge hole in the thick, brick wall. The blast killed Denise McNair, 11, and three 14-year-olds: Carole Robertson, Cynthia Morris, also referred to as Cynthia Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins, who was Rudolph’s sister.

Three Klan members convicted of murder in the bombing years later died in prison, and a fourth suspect died without ever being charged. The bombing occurred eight months after Wallace proclaimed “segregation forever” in his inaugural speech and during the time when Birmingham schools were being racially integrated for the first time.

The church itself has gotten government money for renovations, as has the surrounding Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, formed by President Barack Obama in 2017 in one of his last acts in office. “But not me,” Rudolph said.

Ivey, at the time of the apology, said in a letter to Rudolph’s lawyer that any possible compensation would require legislative approval, said press secretary Gina Maiola.

“Additionally, in attorney-to-attorney conversations that ensued soon after, that same point was reiterated,” she said.

No bill has been introduced to compensate Rudolph, legislative records show, and it’s unclear whether such legislation could win passage anyway since conservative Republicans hold an overwhelming majority and have made an issue of reeling in history lessons that could make white people feel bad about the past.

While the Alabama Crime Victims’ Compensation Commission helps victims and families with expenses linked to a crime, state law doesn’t allow it to address offenses that occurred before the agency was created in 1984.

Rudolph has spent a lifetime dealing with physical and mental pain from the bombing. Despite her injuries and lingering stress disorders, Rudolph provided testimony that helped lead to the convictions of the men accused of planting the bomb, and she’s written a book about her life, titled “The 5th Little Girl.”

Rudolph’s husband, George Rudolph, said he’s frustrated and mad over the way his wife has been treated. Victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks were compensated, he said, as were victims of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

“Why can’t they do something for Sarah?” he said.

___

Reeves is a member of AP’s Race and Ethnicity Team.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              President Joe Biden speaks during the United We Stand Summit in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. The summit is aimed at combating a spate of hate-fueled violence in the U.S., as he works to deliver on his campaign pledge to "heal the soul of the nation." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
            
              FILE - Firemen and ambulance attendants remove a covered body from Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where an explosion ripped the structure during services, killing four black girls, on Sept. 15, 1963. Sarah Collins Rudolph lost an eye and has pieces of glass inside her body from a Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed her sister and three other Black girls inside an Alabama church 59 years ago. (AP Photo, File)
            
              FILE - Sarah Collins Rudolph and her husband, George Rudolph, talk in their home on Nov. 16, 2016, in Birmingham, Ala. Rudolph lost an eye and still has slivers of glass inside her body from the racist bombing that killed her sister and three other Black girls inside a church 59 years ago Thursday. She's still waiting on the state to compensate her for those injuries. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves, File)
            
              FILE - Debris is strewn from a bomb that exploded near a basement room of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. on September 15, 1963, killing four black girls. Sarah Collins Rudolph lost an eye and has pieces of glass inside her body from a Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed her sister and three other Black girls inside an Alabama church 59 years ago. (AP Photo, FILE)

AP

A demonstrator in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for a cease-fire in the Hamas-Israel war on Nov. 21...

Associated Press

Hamas releases a third group of hostages as part of truce, and says it will seek to extend the deal

The fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was back on track Sunday as the first American was released under a four-day truce.

4 days ago

Men look over the site of a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, Wednesday, Oct. 18, ...

Associated Press

New AP analysis of last month’s deadly Gaza hospital explosion rules out widely cited video

The Associated Press is publishing an updated visual analysis of the deadly Oct. 17 explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

7 days ago

Peggy Simpson holds a photograph of law enforcement carrying Lee Harvey Oswald's gun through a hall...

Associated Press

JFK assassination remembered 60 years later by surviving witnesses to history, including AP reporter

Peggy Simpson is among the last surviving witnesses who are sharing their stories as the nation marks the 60th anniversary.

7 days ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

8 days ago

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump helps serve food to Texas Natio...

Associated Press

Trump receives endorsement from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a visit to a US-Mexico border town

Donald Trump picked up the Texas governor’s endorsement Sunday during a visit to a U.S.-Mexico border town.

10 days ago

Eric Trump, executive vice president of Trump Organization Inc., speaks to the media as he leaves f...

Associated Press

Lawyers in Trump’s civil fraud trial are ordered to clam up about judge’s communications with staff

Eric Trump testified Friday that he was relying on accountants to ensure the accuracy of financial statements.

26 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

...

Desert Institute for Spine Care

Desert Institute for Spine Care (DISC) wants to help Valley residents address back, neck issues through awake spine surgery

As the weather begins to change, those with back issues can no longer rely on the dry heat to aid their backs. That's where DISC comes in.

...

DAY & NIGHT AIR CONDITIONING, HEATING AND PLUMBING

Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Alabama sidesteps compensation for survivor of ’63 KKK blast