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Governor Apologizes to Woman Who Survived '63 Church Bomb

Ivey agrees to talks on compensation over attack at Birmingham church
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2020 3:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – The governor of Alabama has extended an apology and a promise to meet with attorneys of a survivor of the Ku Klux Klan's 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham. Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was blinded in one eye in the attack, is seeking compensation from the state; her sister and three other girls were killed as they were changing into choir robes. Gov. Kay Ivey made the offer and apology in a letter to an attorney for Rudolph, USA Today reports, without suggesting what the outcome might be. Such talks, she wrote, "would be a natural extension of my Administration's ongoing efforts to foster fruitful conversations about the all-too-difficult – and sometimes painful – topic of race, a conversation occurring not only in Alabama but throughout America." It's the first time an Alabama official has publicly considered compensation for a victim of racial violence.

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A law firm representing Rudolph at no charge had asked Ivey for an apology and a financial settlement for the trauma she's suffered. That letter blamed rhetoric at the time of Gov. George Wallace and other state leaders for inciting racial violence. "What this country needs is a few first-class funerals, and some political funerals, too," Wallace said shortly before the bombing. "Her life was put on a fundamentally different track in an instant as a little girl," a lawyer for Rudolph said, per the Los Angeles Times. Because of her injuries, she had to abandon her plans to be a nurse, instead doing foundry work and housekeeping. "I'm still paying bills from that day," Rudolph said. "I still have to go to the doctor for my eye." Her lawyers welcomed the Ivey's statement, including the "unequivocal acknowledgment of the egregious injustice that Ms. Collins Rudolph suffered." (When the Klansman convicted in the attack died, Rudolph said she hoped he'd repented.)

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