By: Bill Schammert
It seems hard to believe the Civil Rights Act is still less than 50-years old. As part of Martin Luther King Jr. Week at UNL, three sisters who survived the horrific 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in Birmingham, Ala. opened up about their experience.
"I remember going to church that morning, a day we will never forget," survivor Janie Collins Simpkins said.
"I heard this noise, a real loud boom. Then, all of a sudden the debris came in," Sarah Collins Rudolph said.
Collins Rudolph was just 12-years-old when that bomb exploded. Standing near her sister, she was the lucky one.
Shattered glass caused her to lose an eye, but her sister Addie Collins lost her life.
"It scared me so bad, I couldn't do anything but call on the name of the Lord," Collins Rudolph remembers. She was the only one in the ladies lounge that survived. The four other girls died.
The other sister, Junie Collins Williams, was also supposed to be in that room.
"What if I had stayed down there? It has always been, what if?" Collins Williams said.
To this day, all three mourn the loss of their sister Addie.
"I had no idea when I left, that I would never see her again," Collins Williams said.
The three opened up to more than 100 UNL students and faculty members on Tuesday afternoon in the student union auditorium about their experience.
It's said that this tragic moment of unspeakable violence in 1963 is one of many events that paved the way for the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act, but for these women, as a nation, we still have not come far enough.
"People are violent, going into schools and just killing one another. This just isn't what Dr. King stood for," Collins Rudolph said.