Sunday, September 22, 2013

Let's Retire Sarah Collins Rudolph, The Fifth Little Girl

On September 15, 2013 the world remembered the four little innocent girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair, and Carole Robertson who were murdered in the bathroom of the 16th Street Baptist Church 50 years earlier by the KKK in the racially charged city of Birmingham, Alabama. Prayers were prayed, songs were sung, sermons were preached, and bells were tolled.  The title of the sermon to be preached on that terrible Sunday morning was "A Love that Forgives."  It was not "A Love that Forgets" and yet that is what the city of Birmingham did for 50 years.

Because there was a fifth little girl in that bathroom that morning and she survived the blast though she was terribly injured and disfigured by its effects.  Her name was Sarah Collins Rudolph, she was twelve years old and before this year she was rarely mentioned along with the four little girls who died, one of whom was her own sister, Addie Mae Collins.  She was scrubbed from the history books.

Sarah lost her left eye in that blast and suffered cuts and embedded glass throughout her entire body.  On that day her dreams of becoming a nurse or a mother were demolished along with the church and the stained glass face of Jesus that was blown off with it.  And then she was promptly forgotten.

During the service this past weekend no special chair was set aside for the lone survivor of that day, no special parking place, no invitation to speak and tell her story, no fund to benefit her, the lone survivor of that day.  Sarah was indeed an afterthought.  It is shameful!

And the next day September 16, 2013, after everyone had patted themselves on the back for an event that brought in millions of dollars to the city of Birmingham, 62 years old Sarah Collins dragged herself out of bed at 5:30am and prepared herself to go to work cleaning homes in order to pay her ongoing medical bills which are a direct result of that fateful day.

So, since the city of Birmingham and the state of Alabama and even the church, which has an enormous endowment, has not offered to retire Sarah, a real alive National Treasure, from the relief of overwhelming bills and menial labor, let us-- the rest of the world do so.  At the very least let us raise enough money to cover her medical bills and send her on a vacation with her husband.  She deserves that much.  She did not ask to be a national treasure but because hatred tried to take her life and then apathy guaranteed her abandonment, let us not go another day without correcting this horrible miscarriage of justice.  Let's give a woman who has suffered 50 years quietly and in dignity a gift. Let's retire Sarah!

Rev Toni DiPina

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