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Birmingham Celebrates StrongHer: Power of Women Supporting Women

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Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, surrounded by this year’s StrongHer honorees and guests, unveil the art exhibit of inspirational women in the second-floor lobby of Birmingham City Hall. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson | For The Birmingham Times

The City of Birmingham on Friday paid tribute to many of the city’s unsung she-roes.

On International Women’s Day during Women’s History Month, Mayor Randall Woodfin, joined by this year’s honorees, unveiled the StrongHer art exhibit on the second-floor lobby of Birmingham City Hall.

“All the women you see here that are present, today ladies we celebrate you, we acknowledge you, we honor you. I’m honored you’ve shared your gifts with us, your families, your communities and the City of Birmingham,” said Woodfin.

“And what makes this moment even more special is the art you see …. It’s testament to the power and beauty of women supporting women,” said Woodfin.

The exhibit, Textures of Strength, was commissioned by Christina Johnson, the 2024 Artist in Residence for Railroad Park.

Johnson, a cancer survivor, says each woman’s story in this year’s StrongHer campaign represented a part of her own soul.

“The stories of the honorees inspired me deeply to create works that represent women – their beauty, their strength, their perseverance and dedication through the many layers, the many moving pieces and daily interactions,” said Johnson.

“They (the honorees) have chosen to lead by example with faith and with kindness, and I’m deeply honored to be a part of this beautiful campaign,” said Johnson.

Cancer survivors and StrongHer honorees, Milana Price, left, and Christina Johnson, (Amarr Croskey Photo, The Birmingham Times)

Johnson had a touching exchange at the press conference with nine-year-old Milana Price, a StrongHer honoree, lung cancer survivor and aspiring artist, who has a pencil drawing featured in the StrongHer art exhibit.

Price’s lung cancer was detected when she was four years old.  She had surgery afterward to remove half of her right lung and, according to her mother, has been resilient and encouraging in the face of her recovery.

Price is now cancer-free and her mother, Imaan Cross, says “she’s an encourager in her own little way.”

Johnson, a wife and mother of three, shared she also overcame a childhood cancer diagnosis of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Johnson gifted Price with, in her words, “a painting that represents your survival, your strength and your light,” and added, “I’d like to encourage you to continue to pursue your art and everything you desire.” said Johnson.

As the StrongHer campaign continues to grow, it also features a book, published in 2023, to cement the stories of those whose work and lives have been honored.

Chanda Temple, Senior Project Manager for the City of Birmingham, and an award-winning author, compiled the 150 stories for ‘StrongHer: Women Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges in Birmingham.’

Chanda Temple

Temple said the StrongHer campaign started as an idea back in 2019.

“Mayor Randall Woodfin came to me and said he wanted to recognize women in Birmingham. I started thinking about the best way we can do that, and then StrongHer just came to me,” said Temple.

“These are people who work in the trenches. You never see them out front a lot and they make things happen. They move the city forward and so that was our theme,” said Temple.

The book was the natural evolution of the campaign honoring female community leaders.

Temple encouraged residents to keep sending in their nominees.

“If they nominated someone and they weren’t selected this year, or they weren’t selected in the past, please keep letting us know about these individuals because everybody is a StrongHer.” said Temple.

The book is $28 and can be purchased from the downtown Birmingham Public Library’s Friends Bookstore Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Profiles from the book will be shared each day in March at https://www.birminghamal.gov/strongher.