By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Dr. Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, this week announced 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.
The Global Forum for Freedom and Justice will be a hub where visitors from around the world can share ideas and Birmingham’s Civil Rights history, establish a leadership training institute and attract speakers from across the globe to discuss human and civil rights.
Carson said the grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration would go toward a feasibility study to help the Global Forum become an “anchor institution” for tech and leadership skills for the modern era and Birmingham is an ideal site.
“Human rights didn’t begin here in Birmingham, they were written by God Himself in the hearts of men, women and children . . . but it was here in Birmingham that Americans came together to demand recognition of the truth,” Carson said.
Birmingham City Council President William Parker said the proposed forum is a great way to bring together people through dialogue.
“I think it provides an opportunity for all to come together, sit at the table to figure out how can we work together as one,” said Parker. “. . . we want to ask everybody to focus on how do we have the larger conversations around what can be done?”
Wayne Reynolds, Chairman of the American Academy of Achievement and a member of the Global Forum Advisory Council, has been a strong advocate of the project.
“The Global Forum will advance the legacies of the groundbreaking Civil Rights pioneers to inspire and teach leadership skills for the 21st century, he said adding that the forum will cover issues such as civic leadership, character development, civil and human rights and criminal justice reform.”
“We will develop innovative, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary curriculum encompassing public health, medicine, law, the arts and music . . . all focused on providing students with the tools necessary for them to become leaders and activists for good for their own communities,” said Reynolds.
The forum will also partner with a local university to establish a graduate center for civic innovation, public policy and leadership.