Compiled by Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Birmingham, known as a cradle of civil rights history, today still contains numerous strong voices pushing for change locally and across the country. Within the activist community are those fighting for environmental justice, justice system reform and better connectivity among communities, among other issues. But these individuals all have one thing in common—improved quality of life for all.
Here is one those voices.
Name: Cory Pettway
Organization: 1,000 Black Men Deep Walk, New Era Birmingham, The Willing Family
Your passion: “Community relationship building.”
What does a better Birmingham look like: “More unity amongst people of color within our communities. A better Birmingham would be us basically, in one community, able to keep our funds going through our community, having local businesses, local activities, local parks that are kept up by the businesses that are in the community, that the people who live there are going to and frequently buying and spending with them…Growing up, we knew who Mr. Pettway was in our community. That was one of my great uncles, but he owned a store. Whenever they had something for the basketball team or something where they had to raise funds for new jerseys. They would go to Mr. Pettway. Mr. Pettway was going to write a check for them to get new uniforms, but that was because everybody’s families went and shopped with him…In today’s world, we cater to the large markets, the large brands, so we may go shop with a Walmart and spend all our money there, but when it’s time for some needs inside the school, that Walmart may not be able to fit those needs all the time. It’s very selective on the funds from Walmart that are given. I’ve tried to do that a few times, so I know the difference in when it’s somebody’s local versus that.”
How do we curb homicides in the city: “We were so excited to the recreational center, when we got out of school…but now, here inside the city…when you go to some of these rec centers, sometimes they’re not open, or some of them only have certain particular times that [people] can play basketball. Some of them, if you’re not a resident of that area or you don’t have an ID or whatever, you can’t play ball. In my eyes, there is a lack of things for the youth to do. There is a lack of opportunities for children, for youth, for adolescents, for teenagers and in between, to actually have opportunities to commune with each other, to doggone play basketball with each other, go to a park together, whatever the case it may be, to where they can build a relationship, so the first time they interact with somebody, it’s not when something went wrong, and there’s actually a sense of care.
Favorite quote/Words you live by: “All power to the people.”