Hollis Wormsby, Jr.
For more than 29 years I have written this column on a weekly basis and it has been an exercise that has always come from my heart. Over this time I have seen and reported on many milestones in our city’s and nation’s history. For over 10 years I had the pleasure of serving as host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM, while simultaneously writing this column. I have had the opportunity to sit with civil rights icon Fred Shuttlesworth and distinguished poet Sonya Sanchez, both Birmingham natives, and had the opportunity to interview grieving mothers who have lost children to violence and celebrate young people who overcame obstacles.
From week to week I have presented pieces of my soul, in the form of 600 words or less. It is a soul formed from a long journey. It is a soul that is like a gumbo of the souls and the experiences I have been blessed to share along the way. There is some of my grandfather’s wisdom and well as a dash of the compassion I learned from my grandmother, who as a retired English teacher, was also the person who first taught me that words could be magical. There would be a touch of the meanness of my father’s spirit but also a touch of the generosity of my mother’s spirit.
I was born at a time when the color line was still rigid in the South. I can remember trying to understand why my cousins and I could not use the bathroom at the movie theater in Mobile, or why we had to sit in the balcony when there were plenty of seats on the floor. And all of these experiences are a part of the gumbo that is my soul.
But as someone who is in the late autumn or early winter of my life, I have begun to wander towards the end of the road and the time in life for winding things down. I am probably about 46 months from complete retirement and I will end my run as featured columnist for the Birmingham Times in this edition. I don’t know how you know it is time, I just know that you do.
In my last opportunity to address you in this forum I would encourage you to be good to each other and most importantly to remember that you did not make it on your own, someone helped you, so you try to help someone, too. Or at least that’s the way I see it.
(Hollis Wormsby has served as a featured columnist for the Birmingham Times for more than 29 years. He is the former host of Talkback on 98.7 KISS FM and of Real Talk on WAGG AM. If you would like to comment on this column you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org)