Civil Rights Icon Sarah Collins Rudolph Speaking in Highland Park

HIGHLAND PARK, NJSarah Collins Rudolph will speak at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Awards Program hosted by the Highland Park Human Relations Committee and Community Services.

Free and open to the public, the ceremony starts at 7pm and will end at 9pm.  The event is at Highland Park High School, 102 North Fifth Street in Highland Park.

For more information, contact Human Relations Committee (HRC) State Advisory Board Member for New Jersey and Highland Park HRC Chairman Ashton Burrell at [email protected]

Drafted into the fight for civil rights at the age of twelve, Ms. Sarah Collins Rudolph, along with her older sister Addie Mae Collins, joined three friends on a Sunday afternoon in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963.

The five young girls were playing in the 16th Street Baptist Church when members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) bombed the building. Sarah Collins was the only survivor.

Now married, Ms. Sarah Collins Rudolph visits with many civic engagement, activist groups, churches and schools reliving that day from memory and relaying her story with grace so that her audience may learn the terror of hatred and racism in America.

To this day, Sarah Collins Rudolph demands justice for her sister's death from the City and the County of Birmingham.

"Years later, we wanted to move the remains of my sister Addie Mae to a masoleum, because the cemetary she was in wasn't kept," Ms. Collins Rudolph told New Brunswick Today in a 2014 interview.

But when they had the area underneath the grave stone marked "Addie Mae Collins" excavated, they found a body with dentures in the skull, not that of 14-year old Addie Mae Collins.

"She wasn't in the grave," said Ms. Collins Rudolph. "We're still trying to locate the body. It's been 51 years and the city won't respond."

HIGHLAND PARK ACTIVIST TO BE HONORED FOR HER WORK IN THE COMMUNITY

To be honored at the ceremony will be community activist and newly-elected Highland Park Board of Education member, Sharice Richardson.

Richardson, also a mother and Academic Dean at Rutgers University, founded Highland Park Parents of Students of Color (HP-POSOC), which just recently celebrated their one year anniversary this winter.

POSOC started as a community group for parents with students of color in the Highland Park public school system. Concerned parents meet regularly, usually at The Reformed Church of Highland Park, to discuss organize around issues relevant to having students who may be identified as minorities and how they are treated in the public school system. 

HP-POSOC and other members of the Highland Park community including New Brunswick NAACP lead organizers Deborah Lowery Morgan and Bruce Morgan, faith leader John Wenz, parents Kathryn Adams Burton and Justin Burton, Reverend Seth Kaper-Dale, Rutgers professor and parent Ana Pairet-Vinas and L.I.V.E. Mentorship Program founder Ashton Burrell, want to know how to fix the problem presented by the numbers, where only 12.1% of the district make up amount of children being disciplined as 42.6% of the population. 

In a letter addressed to the Highland Park Board of Education in November 2014, POSOC argued against the palcement of Highland Park Police Officer Joe Carbello in the public schools citing the following statistics regarding Highland Park School District (Office of Civil Rights, 2014:).

POSOC writes, ""We write to request that the Board of Education review and rewrite the district’s policy concerning discipline with the goal of addressing inequities that result in a higher rate of suspension for students of color and students with disabilities." There are only 178 Black/African American students in the entire Highland Park School District, as reported.

Additionally, there are about 628 of White students in the district. Yet both populations are seen in roughly the same numbers from each racial group are seen going through some disciplinary action whether it is suspension or a referral to law enforcement.

Highland Park School District: 1,475 students

Black/African American students: 12.1% of district (178 students) and make up:
37.3% of all students receiving In­School Suspensions (38/102 students)
32.5% of all students receiving Out­of­School Suspensions (27/83 students)
36.1% of all Referrals to Law Enforcement (13/36 students)

Hispanic/Latino students: 16.9% of district (249 students) and make up:
22.5% of all students receiving In­School Suspensions (23/102 students)
19.3% of all students receiving Out­of­School Suspensions (16/83 students)
22.2% of all Referrals to Law Enforcement (8/36 students)

White students: 42.6% of district (628 students) and make up:
26.5% of all students receiving In­School Suspensions (27/102 students)
33.7% of all students receiving Out­of­School Suspensions (28/83 students)
30.5% of all Referrals to Law Enforcement (11/36 students)

Asian students: 23.1% of district (340 students) and make up:
7.8% of all students receiving In­School Suspensions (8/102 students)
9.6% of all students receiving Out­of­School Suspensions (8/83 students)
0.5% of all Referrals to Law Enforcement (2/36 students)

Multiracial students: 5.4% of district (80 students) and make up:
5.9% of all students receiving In­School Suspensions (6/102 students)
4.8% of all students receiving Out­of­School Suspensions (4/83 students)
0.5% of all Referrals to Law Enforcement (2/36 students)

Students with Disabilities: 17% of district (252 students) and make up:
40.1% of all students receiving In­School Suspensions (41/102 students)
42.2% of all students receiving Out­of­School Suspensions (35/83 students)
33.3% of all Referrals to Law Enforcement (12/36 students)