Museum brings lone survivor of 16th Street Baptist Church

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The National Civil Rights Museum is hosting a Book & Author Series event featuring Sarah Collins Rudolph, a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. Rudolph will discuss her book, “The 5th Little Girl,” which recounts her experience during the bombing and her views on forgiveness, reconciliation, and racial justice. The bombing, perpetrated by white supremacists, claimed the lives of Rudolph’s sister and three other girls, and had a profound impact on the civil rights movement. The event is free and open for registration, and an autographed copy of Rudolph’s book will be available for purchase.

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.

About the National Civil Rights Museum
The NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM, located at the historic Lorraine Motel where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, gives a comprehensive overview of the American Civil Rights Movement from slavery to the present. Since the Museum opened in 1991, millions of visitors worldwide have come, including more than 90,000 students annually. Serving as the new public square, the Museum is steadfast in its mission to honor and preserve the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. It chronicles the American civil rights movement and tells the story of the ongoing struggle for human rights, serving as a catalyst to inspire action to create positive social change. A Smithsonian Affiliate and an internationally acclaimed cultural institution, the Museum is recognized as a 2019 National Medal Award recipient by the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS), the top national honor for museums and libraries. It is a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top 5% U.S. Museum, USA Today‘s Top 10 Best American Iconic Attractions; Top 10 Best Historical Spots in the U.S. by TLC’s Family Travel; Must See by the Age of 15 by Budget Travel and Kids; Top 10, American Treasures by USA Today; and Best Memphis Attraction by The Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Business Journal.

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