Birmingham #StrongHER, a new campaign launched by Mayor Randall Woodfin’s administration to highlight some of the unsung “sheroes’’ living, working, volunteering or inspiring others in Birmingham.
Every day in March, 31 women will be featured on the City of Birmingham’s social media outlets in celebration of Women’s History Month.
The message is that Birmingham is StrongHER, BoldHER, BrightHER, FierceHER, SmartHER and BraveHER because of HER.
“We live in a city where women are making moves that spark change,’’ Mayor Woodfin said. “The women highlighted in this campaign are just an example of the thousands of other female gamechangers working to make a difference in our city, our country and the world. I salute them all.’’
Here are the first week of “Sheroes”
In 2008, Storey was laid off from a publication. But that closed door didn’t deter her. She knocked on the door of Jones Valley Teaching Farm for a new opportunity and offered her marketing services in exchange for a box of veggies each week. Jones Valley accepted. A decade later, she’s now leading the organization, using the power of healthy food to impact the lives of young people in Birmingham. Amanda helps build teaching farms on school campuses as well as steer a hands-on food education program, Good School Food, in Birmingham City Schools. Her perseverance is proof that behind ever closed door is an even bigger opportunity.
Published poet Jones knows the power of words. Jones has co-produced 100 Thousand Poets for Change in Birmingham since 2015, raising funds for local organizations. She’s also founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival, which seeks to celebrate the community via poetry and community-centered events. On April 16, the event will bring renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez back to her hometown. “We are edging toward a cultural moment where women are valued as the powerful and prominent changemakers they are. We are more than just shadows of men,” Jones said.
Benga H. Harrison
Harrison’s mission is to teach Birmingham the power of volunteerism. The Avondale resident serves as director of Hands on Birmingham, the volunteer arm for United Way of Central Alabama. She and her team make it easy for people to find causes online, sign up and volunteer for a day or a lifetime. “Communities are only as good as their weakest link,” she said, “therefore, when government, corporations, the faith community, nonprofits and individuals work together to make positive social change, the community as a whole improves and I find it very rewarding to be a small part of the process.”
You’re never too young to bring change.
Take Hemphill Elementary School fifth grader La’Zariya of the Mason City community. When she was in the fourth grade, she asked her principal if she could make the school announcements instead of the adults. She figured her peers would listen a little more to people their own age. They did, and today more students have applied to be part of her broadcasting crew. (She even organized the auditions and secured upgrades for the school’s equipment so she could incorporate tech tricks into the broadcasts.)
But La’Zariya, 11, didn’t stop with the announcements. She also started the school’s SGA, which has held canned food and clothing drives and raised money for the Sickle Cell Foundation and the local Alzheimer’s Walk.
“Most of the time, people doubt (women) and say we can’t do things. But I think that we can do anything that we put our mind to …,’’ said La’Zariya.
Birmingham’s Cheerleader Sherri Ross lives up to her nickname. The Crestwood North native volunteers in numerous women’s, children’s, animal, homeless organizations, as well as art and music festivals. She is the force behind Birmingham Dance Walks, a free fitness event that will host its next walk on March 24 at 2 p.m. in Railroad Park. Ross also founded Free Hugs Birmingham, which encourages people to embrace their neighbors, and Encouragement Encounters – mini-pep rallies for residents in need of a little love. Her mission is to keep our city laughing and loving together. If you are down, Ross always gives you something to smile about.
Georgia Morgan Blair
On May 6, 1963, Georgia Morgan Blair and classmates marched from the now-closed Rosedale High School in Homewood to Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church to protest segregation. After meeting at the church for a meeting, the teenagers filed out of the church to march down the block. Soon, they were arrested for parading without a permit.
Blair spent 10 days in jail. The charges were dropped that August in juvenile court. To this day, she carries a copy of her court summons in her purse. It’s a reminder of her place in history. For this Jones Valley resident, who received a death threat in 1965 for simply trying to register African Americans to vote, running from a problem is not an option. Facing it head on is.
“I would march again because I feel like I’m entitled to all of the freedoms and liberties that anyone in this country has,’’ she said. “I was always taught that nobody is better than me because of their complexion.’’
To see other profiles, please visit www.birminghamal.gov/strongher.