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2020: A Year to Remember

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Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, right, listens to a news conference, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. Family attorney Ben Crump is calling for the Kentucky attorney general to release the transcripts from the grand jury that decided not to charge any of the officers involved in the Black woman's death. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times 

What’s left to say about 2020 except that it’s over. But what a year with the well-chronicled coronavirus pandemic that killed more than 300,000; racial unrest that created division in across many communities and a presidential election that was over — until it wasn’t. And there was plenty of more to a year that goes down as one of the most memorable in recent history. Here’s some of what happened.         

JANUARY 

8: Charles Barkley, the NBA Hall of Famer donates $1 million to Miles College, the single largest donation in the institution’s 122-year history. 

9: UAB is the first academic partner to support the Birmingham Promise scholarship in providing Birmingham City School graduates an opportunity to attend the university with a one-to-one tuition scholarship match. 

17: Celebrating the completion of the city’s $700 million Bridge Replacement Project, Gov. Kay Ivey, Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) representatives and civic leaders take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the new Interstate 59/20 interchange. Three days later the I-59/20 bridge curving through downtown Birmingham re-opens. 

24: Felicia Rucker-Sumerlin becomes the first female Deputy Chief in the 200-year history of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Rucker-Sumerlin, who joined the Office in 1990, had been a captain since 2016. 

26: NBA star Kobe Bryant dies in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in Calabasas, CA. 

27: Radio personality Dana ‘Lady Woo’ Woodruff announces she will join radio station V94.9 WATV in February after 15 years with radio station 95.7 JAMZ. 

28: Southern Company and its subsidiaries announce a $50 million multi-year initiative to provide students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with scholarships, internships, leadership development, and access to technology and innovation to support career readiness.

A new brand for Birmingham’s innovation district is unveiled at Innovation Depot’s Velocity Accelerator Kick-off. The city’s home for innovation, complete with new branding and a website full of resources, is now The Switch.

29: The Junior League of Birmingham announces a partnership with the Birmingham Airport Authority in an effort to aid human trafficking victims. This partnership includes posting signs in every airport bathroom stall to provide potential victims with helpline information, as well as passengers with information to help identify victims.

FEBRUARY

3: As part of the NFL’s celebration of 100 years of professional football, Air Force Retired, Colonel Charles McGee, and three other 100-year-old military veterans participate in the 54th Super Bowl on-field coin toss ceremony, with Colonel McGee flipping the coin.

3: Cory D. Moon is sworn in as Birmingham’s Fire and Rescue Service new chief at Bill Harris arena. Moon will lead the largest fire department in Alabama, commanding approximately 700 personnel and 32 fire stations with an annual operating budget of $64 million. A Birmingham native, Moon, 40, joined BFRS in 2001. 

4: Several Alabama leaders endorse Joe Biden for Democratic presidential nomination, including Jefferson County Commissioners Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson; Talladega Mayor Timothy Ragland and retired Alabama Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cook. The endorsements come on the heels of other Alabama officials who have announced support for the former vice-president including Alabama Senator Doug Jones, Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Alabama State Representative Juandalynn Givan.

4: Ada Ruth Huntley, junior in global studies at Auburn University, becomes first African American woman to be elected Student Government Association president.

11: Mayor Woodfin criticizes an Alabama law forbidding the city from removing or altering a Confederate monument as well as a new proposal to fine cities $10,000-a-day for violations. Woodfin said it was a “slap in the face to black residents of [Birmingham]” to preserve a monument that many find offensive. 

13: Executive Director Anne Wright Rygiel cuts the ribbon on the new Firehouse Ministries in downtown Birmingham.

19: Elisabeth French becomes the first woman selected to serve as Presiding Judge in Jefferson County’s 200-year history. She will oversee the 10th Judicial Circuit, the largest in Alabama’s Judicial System.

19: School and health care professionals gather at Hemphill Elementary School in West Birmingham to celebrate the opening of a new school-based health clinic. The Birmingham City Schools system partners with Cahaba Medical Care to celebrate opening the clinic. 

20: The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) re-opens Freedom Manor, the housing authority’s 100-unit senior citizen residential building in downtown. The six-story building is comprised of one-bedroom units specifically for elderly, near-elderly and disabled residents. 

25: Mayor Woodfin announces that the Alabama Power Foundation, Altec/Styslinger Foundation and Regions Bank will commit $1 million each toward the Birmingham Promise tuition assistance program. 

26: Davenport & Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., oldest active, family-owned business in Birmingham and the oldest active funeral home in Alabama, celebrates the completion of its new cremation center.

27: Ed Farm, short for Education Farm, launches an education program supported by tech giant Apple, Birmingham city and education leaders and area corporations. Apple CEO Tim Cook is on hand for the launch in the Historic Forbes Building downtown. 

29: It hasn’t happened in 20 years, but the Huffman High School boys’ basketball team pulls it off. For the first time in two decades, a Birmingham City School won the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Class 6A boys’ hoops championship. 

MARCH 

1: Congressman John Lewis, who was attacked with tear gas and police’s billy clubs on Bloody Sunday in Selma in 1965, makes an unexpected, inspiring appearance at the 55th anniversary remembrance of the protest. Lewis, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, was not expected to be at the event.

Dr. Mable B. Anderson, founder of the Village Creek Society (VCS) dies. She was 89. Dr. Anderson established the Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society Inc., commonly called the Village Creek Society (VCS), which initially conducted rescue efforts by getting residents out of the area through canoes and boats. 

2: Event Planner Rashada LeRoy, of LRY Media Group has been tapped to product the most visible events of The World Games 2021 Birmingham: the opening and closing ceremonies and World Games Plaza. 

3: COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, becomes more prevalent around the world. University of Alabama at Birmingham experts share tips to help residents prepare themselves, family and home. 

Jefferson County health and school officials meet to discuss updates and preventive steps to deal with the COVID-19 coronavirus that has caused an outbreak of a respiratory illness globally and led to more than 2,400 deaths worldwide including 11 in the U.S. 

With an overwhelming majority of black votes, former vice president Joe Biden on Tuesday convincingly wins the Alabama Democratic primary for president. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Biden had 286,630 votes, or 63.2 percent. Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was in second with 75,326, or 16.6 percent.

Birmingham attorney Ruby Davis makes her first run for elected office successful after getting 35,315 votes or 55 percent in the race for District Court Judge, Jefferson County, Place No.7. 

5: A man convicted in the 2004 killings of three police officers in Alabama is executed. Inmate Nathaniel Woods, 43, is pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m. CST following a lethal injection at the state prison in Atmore. 

6: Bobbie Knight named permanent president of Miles College. Knight, who had served as interim since last summer, becomes the 15th president, effective immediately. 

7: More than 40 United States congressional leaders including U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gather in Birmingham for the 27th annual Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage. 

10: While there have been no identified COVID-19 cases in Alabama, local officials are working to get out front of the disease.  Mayor Woodfin outlines a number of steps the city was taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus including restricting some travel by city employees. Both Jefferson County and the city are making efforts to minimize the risks of the virus to the community, particularly in government buildings.

11: Effective immediately, the BWWB announces plans to temporarily suspend collections on delinquent accounts to ensure that all customers have access to clean water during the COVID-19 emergency.

12: The Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) recommends that any event with 500 people or more be canceled. More than a dozen Birmingham-area events are canceled or delayed, including the NCAA Division II Track and Field and Women’s Basketball competitions; Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) basketball games; and start of the season for the Birmingham Barons minor league baseball team.

Jefferson County announces it will not hold jury trials in the Birmingham Division from March 30 through April 13. The Jefferson County court system says it will ban entrance to any county courtroom for anyone who has been to China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, or Iran within the past 14 days; those countries have been the hardest hit with COVID-19.

13: Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin instructs the city’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity to identify ways to support local, small businesses that may be affected by the rapidly spreading coronavirus. 

The Alabama Department of Health announces the state’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Montgomery.

Miles College suspends in-person instruction and begins transitioning all courses online as of March 30 through the remainder of the spring semester. Online instruction begins March 16 to any off-campus students who wish to remain at home and utilize the distance learning delivery option. Also, all athletic and extracurricular activities are suspended for the remainder of the semester.

14: BCS announces that it will close for students and employees effective immediately; the anticipated return date for students and employees is Monday, April 6, unless otherwise noted. 

15: The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute closes to the public.  All 19 Birmingham Public Library (BPL) locations close until further notice. UAB implements a limited business model to encourage social distancing and discourage the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining critical functions.

16: Jefferson County, Alabama’s most populous county, and Birmingham, the state’s largest city place its respective government and city under declarations of emergency due to coronavirus. Jefferson County commissioners also announce the closure of the downtown Birmingham and Bessemer courthouses to the public until April 6.

Cooper Green Mercy, currently managed by Jefferson County and medical providers for indigent patients, initiates precautionary measures, including canceling all appointments other than oncology, diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds, and wound care. 

A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club closes all clubhouse locations until April 6, which includes the cancellation of Spring Break Camp, which was scheduled for the week of March 23 through 27.

The Birmingham Water Works Board closes the lobby of its payment center and main administrative building, with normal hours resuming April 6.

Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson, MD, announces that nursing homes in the county will no longer allow most visitors and senior centers will not be allowed to have gatherings. He also says restaurants, bars, and breweries will no longer be allowed to offer on-premises consumption of food or beverages. Carry out will still be allowed, and restaurants are encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pickup. In addition, gatherings of 25 people or more, and those where people cannot keep a six-foot distance between attendees, will be banned.

17: The Birmingham City Council approves Mayor Woodfin’s request to provide $4 million to fund police, fire, and public works, as well as a stimulus program for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Jimmie Hale Mission announces changes to types of food that can be delivered to those in need. The organization says it will not accept prepared food deliveries, except from authorized supply services, until further notice. Volunteers are not allowed to bring homemade meals or items from restaurants or use delivery services. 

The City of Hoover announces the complete closure of two fitness centers until further notice. 

18: Regions announces that in-person branch-banking services will be temporarily limited to either drive-through service during regular hours or in-office service by appointment only.

UAB will end in-person/on-site classes for the duration of the spring semester. Instead of on-campus commencement ceremonies this spring, UAB will host virtual/alternative commencement ceremonies.

Target, like many other chains, begins to close stores early to allow for additional restocking and cleaning.

18: Citing the potential health risk to voters and poll workers, Gov. Kay Ivey postpones the March 31 runoff election until July 14. 

With COVID-19 cases’ continuing to rise in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), encourages all to do their part to halt the spread of new infections by “flattening the curve.” 

JCHD orders the closing of all non-essential businesses and services due to the risk of infection by COVID-19. 

19: Michael Lundy is out as president/CEO of the Housing Authority of the Birmingham Division, pending the approval of a separation agreement, according to AL.com. The HABD Board of Commissioners voted 3-1 to put Lundy on paid leave. 

20: Birmingham-area hospitals and the Jefferson County Department of Health announce the Downtown COVID-19 Testing Site, which began seeing patients by appointment only.

22: Barber shops and hair salons ordered to close due to the risk of infection by COVID-19.

23: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Revenue announce that the state income tax filing due date is extended from April 15 to July 15.

24: The Birmingham City Council votes to require a shelter-in-place order until midnight on April 3 during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

The University of Alabama at Birmingham will take part in an NIH-sponsored global clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of novel therapeutic agents in hospitalized adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The drug remdesivir is the first agent to be evaluated. 

26: The remainder of the 2019-2020 school year for most Alabama K-12 students will be completed at home, Governor Ivey and State Superintendent Eric Mackey announce. 

27: The state of Alabama is implementing tighter restrictions surrounding public gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris says further social distancing measures are necessary to be implemented on a statewide basis to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

28: The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, 98, who fought to end segregation, lived to see the election of the country’s first black president, dies at home in Atlanta.

30: The University of Alabama at Birmingham collaborates with the biopharmaceutical company Altimmune, Inc. for preclinical testing of a potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19 disease. 

APRIL

2: The Jefferson County Commission votes unanimously to extend closure of the Birmingham and Bessemer courthouses to April 30 from April 6 and allocates $1 million to purchase hospital beds and additional expenditures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Birmingham World Games will now take place nearly a year later as organizers said the move of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games made it necessary to push the World Games to July 1-17, 2022. 

3: Gov. Ivey announces a statewide stay-at-home order beginning Saturday, April 4. It will expire Thursday, April 30. 

Ed Farm has hired Waymond Jackson Jr. as its first CEO. Short for “education farm,” the tech-focused education and workforce development initiative is backed by Apple and the Alabama Power Foundation.

7: In a near empty chamber, the Birmingham City Council approves $500,000 in hazard/overtime pay for city employees working during the COVID-19 health crisis. 

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell announces over $3.5 million in federal grant funding including $500,000 for the Rehabilitation of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church; $500,000 for the Preservation and Repair of St. Paul United Methodist Church and $345,000 for the Rehabilitation of the Historic Bethel Church.

9: COVID-19 can significantly kill more people than the flu; blacks and the poor tend to do much worse when infected with the coronavirus; and physicians and nurses are working in a frightening environment, says Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, senior vice president of medicine at UAB. 

12: Former NFL quarterback and Alabama State University star Tavaris Jackson dies in a car crash in Alabama. He was 36 years old. 

13: The last slave ship known to have landed in the United States more than 150 years ago has a new owner: The state of Alabama. A federal judge granted ownership of the Clotilda shipwreck to the Alabama Historical Commission in a one-page order.

16: Thanks to Kikstart Inc., a program that aims to provide healthy, nutritious food, serving mostly children, a permanent solution is in place for students who no longer had access to regular meals when area schools closed due to COVID-19.

21: Dr. Lisa Herring, Birmingham City Schools (BCS) Superintendent, announces that she is leaving to become superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools in Atlanta, GA. Herring has been BCS superintendent since 2017. 

22: The World Games 2021 Birmingham has a new name to go with its new date. With the announcement of The Games’ shift to July 7-17, 2022, organizers have decided that the international multisport event will officially become The World Games 2022 Birmingham. 

Gov. Ivey says the state’s stay-at-home order will remain in place at least through April 30 while the state health officer calls for patience and consideration of the health of the most vulnerable as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

22: The Ramsay McCormack Building in downtown Ensley will be demolished and replaced with a four-story, 30,000 square feet structure. The City of Birmingham announces a work plan for redevelopment of the 10-story building.

25: Erskine Ramsay Faush Sr, the Birmingham preacher and radio broadcaster known as the man with the “sweetest voice this side of heaven,” dies. He was 88. He became a legend both in the ministry and on the airwaves.

28: Mayor Woodfin proposes, and the Birmingham City Council unanimously approves an ordinance to require the wearing of a face covering in public during the COVID-19 health emergency. 

28: Gov. Ivey unveils a plan that will allow retailers and state beaches to reopen under new rules, but restaurants, bars and other businesses will stay closed to the public.

29: Rachel Harmon is named inaugural director of Birmingham Promise, a scholarship and apprenticeship initiative of the city of Birmingham. Harmon will be responsible for the management and execution of the initiative’s strategic plan, as well as oversight of all partner relationships, programs, fundraising and community outreach.

30: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Birmingham approves a new curfew ordinance between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

MAY

1: A lawsuit challenges Alabama’s election procedures by arguing that restrictions on absentee ballots and a lack of other voting methods jeopardize the health of voters — especially older voters, black voters, and voters with disabilities — during the coronavirus outbreak. 

6: The 2025 World Police and Fire Games  is coming to Birmingham. The decision brings two major global sporting events in the next five years: The World Games 2022 and the 2025 World Police and Fire Games. The Police and Fire games will take place between June 27 to July 6 in 2025.

8: Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson urges the public to continue to limit gatherings — including at churches –to 10 people or less, despite plans by Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health to lift the restrictions starting May 11.

12: Extending the city’s mandatory face covering ordinance is necessary because the number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases have not decreased, said Mayor Woodfin after the Birmingham City Council extended the ordinance to May 22 from May 15. However, the city’s shelter-in-place curfew which was approved April 30 is no longer in effect.

14: The Birmingham Board of Education appoints Mark A. Sullivan, ED.D, as Interim Superintendent.

19: Dealing with the uncertainty of its finances amid the COVID-19 public health crisis, the city of Birmingham will postpone its FY 2021 budget for three months. The fiscal year begins July 1. 

21: Gov. Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health reopen entertainment venues and tourist sites just in time for the Memorial Day weekend. 

After a nationwide search, Jefferson County announces that Angela Dixon has been promoted to Chief Financial Officer from Deputy Director of Finance. Dixon is the first African-American female to hold the position in the county’s 200-year history. 

22: Citing the recent increase in patients hospitalized in Jefferson County with COVID-19, Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson issues an order that will keep entertainment venues closed until June 6. Those venues include night clubs, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, museums and indoor children’s play areas. 

The Birmingham Board of Education will hold traditional, hold in-person high school graduation ceremonies for seniors the first week of June. The system had planned to hold a “red carpet drive-through” ceremony at the stadium, but said it had “revamped” those plans.

26: The City of Birmingham will not extend its mandatory face covering ordinance beyond midnight on Friday, May 29, but that doesn’t mean citizens need to become complacent, said Mayor Woodfin. 

28: More than 100 demonstrators gather in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park to protest the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died May 25 in Minnesota after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck in an incident that was caught on video and sparked nationwide outrage. 

29: Less than a week after announcing that the city’s face covering ordinance would expire at midnight on May 29, the Birmingham City Council, during a special called meeting, extends the ordinance until midnight on June 12.

31: Protesters in downtown Birmingham, angry over the death of George Floyd, began trying to tear down a Confederate monument and damage a number of buildings and businesses. Mayor Woodfin appears on the scene and asked the crowd to leave before police stepped in. A Thomas Jefferson statue at the Jefferson County Courthouse, adjacent to the park, is damaged.

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JUNE

1: City of Birmingham placed under a state of emergency and a mandatory curfew. Mayor Woodfin makes the declarations during a nearly hour-long virtual press conference in the wake of protesters on Sunday night damaging downtown businesses and attacking reporters. The citywide curfew will be implemented until further notice and last from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, the mayor says.

The City of Birmingham removes a controversial Confederate statue from downtown’s Linn Park less than 24 hours after protesters defaced and damaged the monument.

Jefferson County jails get a new health care provider—Birmingham-based NaphCare Inc., which offers correctional services across 27 states. The company will oversee medical care for the jails in Birmingham and Bessemer under a three-year contract with two optional one-year renewals.

2: Wearing black ribbons, Birmingham City Councilors pass a resolution of support for George Floyd, the Minneapolis man killed by police last week that has led to several protests and civil unrest across the nation as well as in Birmingham.

Joining some of its largest municipalities, Jefferson County declares a state of emergency and implements a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew through June 9. The County Commission’s emergency meeting was held after Birmingham, Hoover and Bessemer all placed their cities under curfews after widespread national and unrest following the death of George Floyd.

4: A Birmingham police spokesperson said an arrest has been made in connection with an alleged threat toward Mayor Woodfin. According to the city, a 49-year-old man was arrested at a home in Warrior. 

5: A JCDH order regarding public activities is set to expire at midnight, and will not be renewed. That means clubs, theaters and other businesses that have been closed because of coronavirus restrictions will have new options. 

8: The Housing Authority of Birmingham announces it is terminating its partnership with the Church of the Highlands after churchgoers noticed controversial social media activity by the church’s Senior Pastor Chris Hodges. 

Former State Representative Oliver Robinson confirms that he has been released from prison during the previous week. He had admitted to taking bribes to convince his constituents in north Birmingham to oppose the EPA’s environmental cleanup efforts of contaminated soil. Robinson was sentenced to 33 months behind bars after pleading guilty to bribery and tax evasion.

9: Defunding the police department is a not good idea and could cost lives, Police Department (BPD) Chief Patrick D. Smith tells the Birmingham Times in an interview. Instead, police departments need to be “re-funded” to provide improved training that will enable officers to better serve citizens, he said.

More than a dozen Birmingham police officers have been terminated for some incidents involving excessive force or unauthorized force and another 39 have been suspended for disciplinary reasons over the past two years, Chief Smith says during a virtual press conference with Mayor Woodfin.

12: Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr files a legal pleading in the high-profile capital murder case of Toforest Johnson, urging the Court to set aside Johnson’s conviction and order a new trial. 

Birmingham-area companies release statements about diversity, equity and inclusion and where they stand on racial injustice. The companies include Alabama Power, Birmingham Business Alliance, Birmingham Education Foundation, Regions, Protective Life, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and Shipt.

17: Charges against Birmingham comedian Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson for inciting to riot are dismissed. 

The City of Birmingham will not prosecute anyone solely arrested for curfew violations and other minor charges from June 1 through June 7 during the height of the downtown demonstrations.

19: Overall crime in Birmingham Housing Authority communities has declined nearly 20 percent from this time last year, according to housing officials.

Angela Davis, humanitarian, global civil rights activist and Birmingham native receives the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. During the virtual ceremony held on Juneteenth, Davis was presented the award which honors outstanding individuals for significant contributions to human and civil rights.

21: A few hundred turn out for the Be the Change Unity Rally in Kelly Ingram Park downtown, the brainchild of rising Indian Springs School senior Jordyn Hudson, founder of Shape The Culture, sponsor of the event.

22: Kenneth E. Coleman is named president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), the region’s leading economic development organization. He is the first African-American to hold that position and its predecessor organization the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Metropolitan Development Board.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps says the sport will permanently ban the person or people who hung the noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway Sunday. 

26: Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr., the last of three one-time Ku Klux Klansmen convicted in a 1963 Alabama church bombing that killed four Black girls and was the deadliest single attack of the civil rights movement, dies in prison. He was 82. 

Jefferson County will require face coverings in most indoor public places beginning. Under the order, anyone over the age of eight must wear a face covering inside virtually all public places in the county as well as inside any public transportation or ride-share vehicles. 

27: The Birmingham Times Media Group (BTMG) wins 1st place awards for Best News Feature Story; Best Education Coverage; Best Layout and Design; and Best Newspaper Website in the 2020 Alabama Press Association Media Awards.

29: The Magic City Bar Association (MCBA) establishes an ongoing Protest Protection Plan (PPP) to help provide free legal representation to many Birmingham protesters arrested during demonstrations.

30: Due to the impact of COVID-19, the city of Birmingham is projected to have a $75 million revenue shortfall and may have to suspend merit pay for city employees, Mayor Woodfin announces.

JULY

2: The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision blocks a lower court ruling allowing curbside voting in Alabama and waiving some absentee ballot requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

3: An 8-year-old boy is killed in a shooting at the Riverchase Galleria shopping mall that left three other people injured.

5: Cleveland “Cleve” Eaton, the Hall of Fame jazz legend from Fairfield (Ala.), dies. He was 80. “He was just a wonderful man who treated me like a queen and took care of [his children and grandchildren],” said his wife Myra Eaton. 

The Hoover Police Department announce 22-year-old Montez Moses Coleman of Birmingham was arrested as a suspect in the Riverchase Galleria mall shooting that killed one and injured 3 others. 

14: Eyrika Parker, a lifelong Birmingham resident, wins 57.45 percent of the vote to defeat Roderick “Rod” Scott, state lawmaker, 42.22 percent, for Jefferson County Treasurer in the Democratic primary runoff. Parker becomes the first African-American treasurer elected countywide.

Following up on his pledge to review safety standards of the Birmingham police department, Mayor Woodfin announces the city’s new Public Safety Task Force during a virtual press conference from City Hall. 

Woodfin announces “an outright” ban on the use of chokeholds by Birmingham police. The announcement comes just two months after the death of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, one month after civil unrest in Birmingham and weeks after Woodfin pledged to review safety standards of the BPD.

15: Birmingham Park Board shuts down city-based leagues with its decision to not lease its parks to youth football programs out of concern for the novel coronavirus. The board unanimously votes to not allow for the playing of youth football in city-operated athletic facilities and parks.

17: Congressman John Lewis, the iconic Civil Rights leader from Alabama and “the conscience of Black America” dies at age 80. 

With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 health pandemic, Birmingham City Schools (BCS) is offering students, teachers and parents four different learning options for the upcoming school year, which begins August 24. 

19: Birmingham Mayor Woodfin, Alabama Senator Doug Jones and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Alabama were among the hundreds of leaders who mourned the passing of Congressman Lewis. 

20: Parents began registering Birmingham City Schools students with four different learning options for the upcoming school year, which begins August 24. The options include remote learning, blended learning, traditional learning and virtual.

The annual Magic City Classic football game between Alabama State University and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical is postponed following concerns related to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) announces the postponement of all scheduled fall contests.

21: The Birmingham City Council approves a total of $5 million for Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) to provide public transportation from July 1 to December 31.

22: The first nine weeks of the Birmingham City Schools (BCS) 2020-2021 year will be done remotely, Dr. Mark Sullivan, BCS Interim Superintendent announces.

23: The Jefferson County Commission allocates up to $6.4 million in CARES Act funding, to increase COVID-19 testing in the county, particularly in underserved communities. 

25: Civil rights icon and longtime Georgia congressman John Lewis is remembered — in the rural Alabama county where his story began — as a humble man who sprang from his family’s farm with a vision that “good trouble” could change the world. The morning service was held in the city of Troy in rural Pike County at Troy University.

Dr. Perry W. Ward, president of Lawson State Community College announces his retirement and closes a chapter of leadership that began in 1987. “Lawson State has been a part of my life, as well as that of my wife Ann and family, for the last 33 years,” Ward says in a statement.

26: The late U.S. Rep. John Lewis crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the final time Sunday as remembrances continue for the civil rights icon.

28: The Birmingham City Council unanimously approves $250,000 in emergency funds for Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) as the institute grapples with the impact of COVID-19.

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, one of the world’s richest women, formerly married to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos donates $20 million to Tuskegee University, making it the largest single gift in the university’s nearly 140-year history. 

29: Gov. Kay Ivey extends through Aug. 31 Alabama’s Safer at Home order that mandates mask-wearing. She also contended that Alabama children belong in classrooms to start the school year even as her state health officer said the state’s COVID-19 numbers “are not particularly encouraging.”

30: Dr. Adrienne Starks, Birmingham biological scientist, will serve on a committee that will award $40 million to help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030. The grant is dubbed the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge.

AUGUST

10: The Girls Scouts of the USA appoint Judith Batty as the company’s interim CEO. This makes Batty the organization’s first Black CEO.

11: Joe Biden names California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, making history by selecting the first Black woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket.

Students in Birmingham City Schools will begin the 2020-21 academic year on September 8, the day after Labor Day, instead of the previously planned August 24, school officials announce.

17: Alabama State University and Alabama Agriculture & Mechanical will play its annual Magic City Classic rivalry game at Legion Field on April 17, 2021, the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) announces. 

18: After a three-month delay due to financial concerns caused by COVID-19, Mayor Woodfin unveils a proposed $412 million FY 2021 budget that addresses a $63 million shortfall with pay cuts for employees and boards and agencies and furloughs for 7 percent of the city’s workforce. 

Seventeen rising Democratic stars – including Birmingham Mayor Woodfin — together give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. 

19: Miles College honors Autherine Lucy Foster an alumna and the first African American to enroll and attend the University of Alabama with an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. 

Kamala Harris accepts the Democratic nomination for vice president, cementing her place in history as the first Black woman on a major party ticket and promising she and Joe Biden will rejuvenate a country ravaged by a pandemic and riven by racial and partisan divides.

20: Joe Biden accepts the Democratic presidential nomination with a vow to be a unifying “ally of the light” who would move an America in crisis past the chaos of President Donald Trump’s tenure. 

21: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams along with state and local health officials tour a newly opened surge testing site in the Sears parking lot of the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover Ala. 

23: Mike McClure Jr., senior pastor of Birmingham’s Rock City Church, wins a Stellar Award for Best New Artist. 

24: Regions Bank  announces a $75,000 grant for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), a cultural and educational research center that chronicles the visual and oral history of both the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama and the fight for greater human rights around the world.

25: The five-story, 140,000-square-foot former American Red Cross building at 2225 Third Ave. N. could see new life as 192 workforce housing apartments after a $30 million renovation, it is announced. The building has been vacant since the organization moved out in 1999.

25: Pleasant Grove voters elect three Black city councilors after having never elected a person of color before to city government in the city’s 83-year history. Kevin “K.D.” Dunn, Yolanda Lawson and Ray Lassiter are the first Black candidates elected to office in city history. 

27: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extends a statewide order to wear masks in public until Oct. 2, saying the state has made great strides in reducing the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

31: The Birmingham Board of Education names Dr. Mark Sullivan school superintendent. 

Longtime philanthropist and Golden Flake heiress Joann Bashinsky announces the establishment of the Joann Bashinsky Scholarship Fund at Miles College. The $168,000 gift will provide three four-year scholarships to competitively selected students who lack the financial resources to attend college.

Alabama coach Nick Saban leads dozens of his football players and other athletes on a march to protest social injustice and recent incidents of police brutality against Black men and women. 

SEPTEMBER

1: Jefferson County files a motion to terminate a 38-year-old consent decree over its discriminatory hiring practices against Blacks and women. If accepted by a federal court judge, the request will end one of the longest running consent decree cases in the country.

2: Underserved students throughout Jefferson County will have new computer devices during the upcoming school year, thanks to County Commissioner Sheila Tyson and corporate and foundation partners, New York based nonprofit, The Loyalty Foundation and DC Blox, an Atlanta-based data center provider with offices in Birmingham.

8: Randall Woodfin, seeking re-election as Birmingham Mayor, has raised $270,000 in seven days for his bid to serve a second term in office. 

11: Judge David Hobdy Jr., of the Jefferson County Circuit Court Bessemer Division, and Judge Brendette Brown Green, of the Jefferson County Circuit Court Birmingham Division talk about being elected historian and treasurer, respectively, of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. 

15: U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama takes to the Senate floor to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham and to call for unity in the wake of civil rights protests this summer.

Birmingham City Councilors say they are outraged by a proposal by the Parks and Recreation Board to close 12 facilities throughout the city. The city is facing a $63 million shortfall and Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposed $412 million FY 2021 budget includes furloughs including recreation center employees. 

Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. (UNITED), announces that it will invest $5 million to repurpose its production facility as additional warehouse and loading space to optimize its distribution system, better serve customers, and provide updated fleet solutions that benefit associates.

After much criticism, concern and some outrage, the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board on walks back a plan that would have potentially closed 12 park and recreation sites.

18: More than a dozen local businesses, organizations, and white female leaders throughout the city handed over their Instagram accounts to Black women in hopes of educating their audiences about ways to fight racial injustice as a part of the #ShareTheMicNow campaign. 

The Birmingham Public Library board of trustees votes unanimously to furlough 158 of the system’s 211 employees, according to birminghamwatch.org website. as the city grapples with finance issues. Of the 158 furloughed employees, 91 are full-time and 67 are part-time employees.

After being closed to the public for nearly seven months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Birmingham Museum of Art announces plans to reopen on Tuesday, October 6. 

22: Protesters converged both inside and outside of City Hall to denounce plans to furlough 158 workers at Birmingham Public Library because of a $63 million shortfall in the city’s budget.   More than two dozen demonstrators gathered outside to call on city and library leaders to support the libraries which provide a number of essential services for citizens. 

23: The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) selects David A. Northern Sr. to serve as President/CEO. He succeeds Michael Lundy, who was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this year.

Birmingham Promise — which provides funds for tuition and work experience for city students entering Alabama’s public two-year and four-year colleges and universities —announces a $300,000 contribution from AT&T. 

24: The Alabama home once occupied by the Rev. A.D. King, the brother of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is being added to the government’s list of places that help tell the story of the civil rights movement. 

29: The Birmingham City Council adopts Mayor Woodfin’s $412 million fiscal 2021 budget which came after weeks of protests, pay cuts, contentious furloughs of city workers and other measures to fill a $63 million revenue shortfall caused by the coronavirus shutdown.

30: Gov. Ivey apologizes to Sarah Collins Rudolph, a survivor of a racist 1963 church bombing that killed four Black girls, calling the blast an “egregious injustice,” but declines to pay restitution without legislative involvement.

OCTOBER

1: The redevelopment of the historic Ramsay-McCormack Building in the Ensley Business District begins with demolition underway of the original 10-story edifice. 

3: The U.S. Department of Labor awards the Dannon Project a $4 million grant to provide reentry and supportive services to and reduce recidivism for people leaving prison or jail. 

7: More than 100 individuals in the Jefferson County Jail in Bessemer register to vote. Those eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 general election were registered while others were provided absentee ballot applications.

8: Jefferson County officials talk of ways to address a “deluge” of in-person absentee voters that have caused complaints and lines stretching from the courthouse outside to nearby Linn Park.

11: Railroad Park celebrates its 10th anniversary with a virtual picnic. 

16: Miles College opens its Student Health and Wellness Center which comes in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that has intensified the way the institution assesses and addresses the wellness needs of its students.

A bipartisan group of Jefferson County (AL) Commissioners vote 4-0 to open the downtown Birmingham and Bessemer County Courthouses for in-person absentee balloting on the weekend ahead of the November 3 general election.

17: More than 500 stand in lines for the first Saturday of in-person absentee balloting at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Meanwhile, in Bessemer, more than 700 voters turned out within a four-hour time frame, said Karen Dunn Burks, the Absentee Elections Manager/Circuit Clerk in the Cut-Off Division.

20: Despite concern from citizens about software for the police department that they say could include facial recognition, the Birmingham City Council approves an agreement to purchase the software on an 8-1 vote.

With local rates of COVID-19 spread now at moderate levels, teachers and staff in Birmingham City Schools will return to in-person work on Monday, Oct. 26, Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan announces.

22: Family, friends, neighbors and city officials gather at the Tom Brown Village Community Center in the Avondale neighborhood for a memorial tribute to Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney, a three-year-old girl who was tragically murdered last year. 

The City of Birmingham may have found a solution to its projected $63 million revenue shortfall in the fiscal 2020-21 budget that caused employee layoffs and salary reductions – a $40 million sale of the city-owned parking decks. 

25: Birmingham-based health educator and veteran runner Jerri Haslem’s 8.46 Breathe Race Series honors George Floyd and raises awareness about racial inequality and injustice. 

The potential sale of six Birmingham parking decks for $40 million is “short-sighted” and does not take into consideration future growth in the downtown area, says a Birmingham Parking Authority (BPA) board member in a statement. 

26: Standing on the steps of the downtown Birmingham church where she lost an eye and her sister Addie Mae Collins and three other girls died in a 1963 bombing, Sarah Collins Rudolph, has a simple message for those gathered outside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church: vote in the November 3 election. 

27: The Birmingham City Council will “explore all options” before deciding whether to sell six city-owned parking decks for $40 million, said Council President William Parker.

After 57 years as a poll worker who has seen election of the first Black Birmingham City Councilor, the first Black Birmingham Mayor and the first Black President of the United States, Mrs. Martha Mae Ophelia Moon Tucker, 93, announces she will work her last election on Tuesday, November 3. 

The Birmingham City Council unanimously approved making the first Tuesday of November during a presidential election year, Election Day, a city holiday to make it easier for citizens to vote.

29: Anthony C. Hood, an Associate Professor of Management at UAB, has been named Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, for First Horizon National Corp. in Memphis, Tennessee. 

30: After a fundraising campaign that lasted 15 months including a stretch when support lagged, Erica “Star” Robbins, founder and executive director of Be A Blessing Birmingham (BABB) and her nonprofit unveils a mobile shower unit with three stalls for the city’s homeless population. 

31: Gospel legend Bishop Rance Allen dies at the age of 71. The minister of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) passes at a midwestern care facility. 

All scheduled in-person Birmingham Municipal Court appearance hearings are postponed until further notice, due to COVID-19 global pandemic. Those include misdemeanors, traffic, and parking cases.

NOVEMBER

3: The U.S. presidential election between Democrat Joe Biden and Incumbent Republican Donald Trump carries over into Wednesday morning with no clear winner emerging in a tight contest.

Tommy Tuberville, a former college football coach, recaptures the U.S. Senate seat for Republicans by defeating Democrat Doug Jones with 62.14 percent, or 1,350,815, of the vote to Jones’s 37.86 percent, or 822,905.

Birmingham attorney Ruby Y. Davis, who was making her first run for elected office, receives 55.07 percent, or 174,630 votes, to defeat Republican incumbent Judge Bentley Patrick who received 44.85 percent, or 142,227, votes in the race for Jefferson County District Court Judge, Place No. 7.

Tax Assessor Gaynell Hendricks wins a third term to her Jefferson County seat with 55.69 percent, or 176,693 votes, to Republican Challenger Jonathan O. Barbee’s 44.23 percent or 140,274 votes.

4: Lowe’s, the retail giant specializing in home improvement, plans a 1.2 million-square-foot, $40 million facility in Bessemer as part of its expanding distribution network.

5: Democrat Joe Biden pushes closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to carry the White House, securing victories in the “blue wall” battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan and narrowing President Donald Trump’s path.

6: Democrat Joe Biden overtakes President Donald Trump in the vote count in Pennsylvania and Georgia, closing in on a presidency that hinges on the outcome of tight contests in key battleground states. Both races remained too early to call with votes still being counted.

After just four months on the job, Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) President and CEO Kenneth E. Coleman resigns to accept a new position as a senior executive for a utility company in Texas.

7: Democrat Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday.

California Sen. Kamala Harris becomes the next vice president of the United States, shattering another racial and gender barrier in American politics, at the end of a bruising presidential race that further exposed a bitterly divided electorate. 

8: Alex Trebek, the beloved host of gameshow “Jeopardy!” since its 1984 debut in syndication, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

9: Buffalo Rock Company will invest $75 million in new technologies, renovations and create as many as 50 new jobs as part of a major expansion in the city of Birmingham.

10: The former Carraway Hospital property in North Birmingham, vacant since 2008, will get new life after the Birmingham City Council unanimously rezones the property. 

14: The number of positive COVID-19 cases at Hudson K-8 School has prompted Birmingham City Schools to shift to remote learning at that school until after the Thanksgiving break. 

16: Josh Carpenter, Director of the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, steps down effective Nov. 30. 

18: Gov. Ivey announces Revive Plus, a $200 million grant program to support small businesses, nonprofits and faith-based organizations in Alabama that have been affected by COVID-19. 

20: The Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) shines light on one of America’s most renowned modernist painters in a new exhibit—“Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle.”

23: Miles College announces a $2 million collaboration with IBM to help students and faculty develop technology skills. The partnership will help train students and instructors in technologies such as AI, blockchain, data science, cybersecurity, cloud and quantum.

30: Birmingham City Schools will return to remote learning beginning December 7 as the number of COVID-19 cases increase in Birmingham and health officials project additional increases in the coming weeks. 

DECEMBER 

1: The Birmingham City Council unanimously approves borrowing $4.58 million from the city’s general fund reserve to bring back 132 full-time employees who have been on furlough since September. 

Jefferson County recently passes a grim milestone with more than 500 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic. The county records its 501 death from the virus.  

4: Health officials urge residents to “buckle down” with COVID-19 cases expected to increase over the holiday season. The county has more than 36,000 total cases and 520 deaths since March when the pandemic began. 

7: Furloughed Birmingham city employees return to work after being out since September.

8:  Miles College announces it will become a community center for Coding and Creativity as part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative and Tennessee State University’s HBCU C2 initiative designed to bring coding and creativity experiences to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and their communities.

Acclinate, a Huntsville-based startup, will open a new primary office in Birmingham in December.  The company, which will continue to have offices in Huntsville, was co-founded in 2019 by Delmonize “Del” Smith, Chief Executive Officer and Tiffany Jordan Whitlow, Chief Development Officer. 

Construction of the $174 million Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex’s Protective Stadium marks a key milestone with a “topping out” celebration. 

9: The U.S. Justice Department files suit against the State of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Corrections alleging that the conditions at Alabama’s prisons for men violate the Constitution. 

10: A five-member public safety task force made up of lawyers, former law enforcement and community leaders releases its first report with recommendations to “reform and reimagine” Birmingham police department policies and procedures.

14: The University of Alabama at Birmingham to receive 10,725 initial doses of the Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

The Electoral College gives Joe Biden a majority of its votes Monday, confirming his victory in November’s election. President Donald Trump’s refuses to concede.

15: Birmingham Public Library executive director Floyd Council resigns. Council, who was named executive director in 2017, resigns consultation “with my doctor, my pastor and my attorney,” he wrote to Birmingham Public Library employees. 

Dr. Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, announces a $2.9 million federal grant to fund a feasibility study to determine possible locations in Birmingham for a Global Forum for Freedom and Justice Center. 

18: Local, city and state leaders announce the first phase of the Birmingham Xpress Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system during a groundbreaking ceremony in Five Points West. Birmingham Xpress will connect 25 neighborhoods along a 10-mile corridor between Five Points West and the Woodlawn community. 

21: A federal judge releases Jefferson County from one of the longest serving consent decrees in the country. In a nine-page order, U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith terminates a 38-year-old consent decree over the county’s discriminatory hiring practices writing that the county has “demonstrated its ability and commitment to function in compliance with federal law, absent judicial supervision.”