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$207 pledged of $30,000 goal
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$207 pledged of $30,000 goal
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About this project

The Story

Emergency workers survey the rubble following the bombing (image courtesy of the Birmingham Public Library archives)
Emergency workers survey the rubble following the bombing (image courtesy of the Birmingham Public Library archives)

In August of 1963 some 250,000 people listened to Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his inspiring dream of a nation where little black and white children would someday hold hands and be “judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.”

Yet, even as these inspiring words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous "I Have a Dream" speech rang out from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, racial relations in the segregated South were marked by vicious acts of violence and scathing and persistent inequality. On September 15, 1963 the Ku Kux Klan planted dynamite outside a church in Birmingham, Alabama blowing a gaping hole into the wall and killing four little girls who were in the bathroom preparing for Sunday morning services. The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was a predominantly black congregation that served as an organizing and meeting place for civil rights leaders and protestors. A place of sanctuary and peace instantly became a place of horror and lifelong nightmares.

The four girls killed in the attack, from top left: Addie Mae Collins (Sarah's Sister), Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.
The four girls killed in the attack, from top left: Addie Mae Collins (Sarah's Sister), Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.

Four young girls were killed and twenty other people were injured, one permanently and seriously. This act of terrorism against innocent children became the tipping point of the Civil Rights movement, drawing outrage from across the nation. The violent clash between civil rights protestors and police drew national attention to the dangerous struggle for civil rights for African-Americans. Eventually the four little girls' deaths would be instrumental in the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This is the story of Sarah Collins Rudolph, the fifth little girl who was injured on that horrible September morning and the pastor determined to tell her story to the world. Her story has been largely ignored by history, her suffering and heartbreak mostly forgotten.


What We've Done So Far

The first block of filming for our documentary has been completed. Our crew traveled to Birmingham in early September 2013 during the city's commemorative events for the 50 anniversary of the bombing. We interviewed Sarah, her husband George, the Rev. John Reynolds who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the early years of the civil rights movement, Professor Tracy Snipe of Wright State University, and G. Douglas Jones who was the prosecuting attorney in the trial of the bombing suspect. We also captured the anniversary events including speeches from Attorney General Eric Holder, civil rights giant Joseph Lowery, and a wreath laying by Rev. Jesse Jackson. The promo video we've included here provides a small sample of the footage we took and provides a sense of the intended narrative style of the final film.


What We Need

In order to finish the film we need to return to Birmingham to speak with city officials and the remaining family members of the four girls who were killed. Our film is intended to show how Sarah has been forgotten despite her presence at a pivotal moment in the civil rights era - and her sacrifice, which left her permanently disabled. To do this, we need to show where she is today - cleaning houses for minimum wage, enduring the scars of a vicious bombing, shattered by PTSD. We would also like to interview Birmingham officials on the issue of compensation for Sarah as a victim of terrorism from the city itself. We also need to round out perspectives on the bombing and the context in which it occurred with interviews from two or three additional experts and historians.

Finally, we have post-production costs - editing, sound mixing, narration, and promotion. At the moment we have no funds to finish the film, and if we receive none this film will never be seen, and Sarah's story left untold. We would very much like to get a "name" to do the narration and lend star power to the film, increasingly the possibility that it will be picked up by a major distributor and receive national attention.

Risks and challenges

The single greatest challenge we face upon receiving funds is getting attention for the film. A polished, powerful product that does the story justice will be of little use if no one sees it. So our greatest obstacle will be standing out among the hundreds of documentaries made every year. Promotion and publicity will be vital.

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Funding period

- (30 days)