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Church Bombing Survivor Talks to Students
AVONDALE, Ohio (Jeff Hirsh) -- If it happened today it would be called a case of domestic terrorism.
But when an all-black church was bombed in 1963, authorities in the southern state where it happened barely considered it a crime. Today, one of the survivors of the infamous bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, told her story to some Cincinnati school children. Local 12 news reporter Jeff Hirsh shares her story and shows us how it had deep meaning for the students in the class.
Memories of the struggle for civil rights, police dogs, freedom rider buses attacked, and perhaps most tragic of all, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
When it went off it didn't just go boom. It went boooommm, like that.
Sarah Collins, now Sarah Collins Rudolph, was a 12 year old in church on September 15, 1963. Sarah's older sister, 14 year old Addie Collins was killed, along with three other children, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair.
Thursday morning, Collins Rudolph told her story to the children of North Avondale Montessori School. A story of how Ku Klux Klan members planted the dynamite after planting hatred.
I think they planted the bomb at night and I believe they wanted it to go off that night, but it went off in the morning. When it went off it scared me so bad because it was such a loud sound.
Collins Rudolph was brought to Cincinnati by several attorneys from the firm Ulmer and Berne, who felt her story had to be shared.
The first place that I thought of was North Avondale Montessori School, because my daughters all went here a long time ago, says Karen Imbus, who helped bring Collins Rudolph to the school.
If you lived through the civil rights era, Rosa Parks, the march on Washington, the police dogs in Birmingham are images you don't forget. But if you're a kid today ages 11, 12, 13, these are just pictures from the history book. But when the history books come alive you really get a sense of what was going on
But the message is not just about the past. It's about the present
Sarah Collins Rudolph was recently presented the Congressional Gold Medal by President Obama.
One bombing suspect was given a slap on the wrist, a six month sentence in 1963 for possessing dynamite without a permit. But the case was re-opened in 1977 and that suspect, Robert Chambliss was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Another suspect was convicted in 2001, and a third in 2002 for murder in both instances.