Museum brings lone survivor of 16th Street Baptist Church bombing

Museum brings lone survivor of 16th Street Baptist Church bombing

Editorial credit: Mark Van Scyoc /

During the 60th anniversary, the survivor reveals her journey through the book, The 5th Little Girl

Memphis, TN, Sept. 21, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The National Civil Rights Museum brings survivor-turned-civil rights activist, Sarah Collins Rudolph, to speak on her book, The 5th Little Girl: Soul Survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing (The Sarah Collins Rudolph Story) as part of its Book & Author Series on Tuesday, September 26.  The brave advocate will share her views on forgiveness, reconciliation, and racial justice during the 60th anniversary of the tragic event.On September 15, 1963, Sarah Collins Rudolph endured a tragedy that shook the nation’s conscience. As the “Fifth Little Girl” inside the bathroom lounge of the 16th Street Baptist Church, she experienced the horrifying moment when a bomb, orchestrated by white supremacists, detonated, claiming the life of her sister, Addie Mae Collins, along with Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair.

This egregious act of domestic terrorism reverberated worldwide. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described the bombing as “one of the most tragic and vicious crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.” It also sparked the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The blast left twelve-year-old Sarah Collins temporarily blind. For decades, she slipped into anonymity. In the book, an intimate first-hand account co-authored by Dr. Tracy Snipes, Rudolph imparts her views on topics such as the 50th-year commemoration, restitution, and racial terrorism underscored by the subsequent deadly violence of the Mother Emanuel massacre in Charleston, SC, and the Charlottesville, VA racial mob violence.

An autographed copy of The 5th Little Girl will be available in the Museum’s store. The hybrid Book & Author Series event begins at 6:00 pm Central and is free and open for registration.  For more information, visit

The book talk series continues October 4, when the Museum highlights the book, A Few Days Full of Trouble, by co-authors Christopher Benson and Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr., the cousin of Emmett Till.  This discussion will pair with the exhibit opening of Emmett Till & Mamie Till: Let the World See on October 7 at the Museum.

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