2020 StrongHer initiative continues to recognize city’s unsung women heroes

By Chanda Temple

For the second year, Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin will recognize unsung “sheroes’’ in Birmingham through the city’s StrongHer initiative.

Launched in March 2019, the goal of the campaign is to highlight women making moves to improve the Magic City through their place of employment, community service or school. Each day in March, which is Women’s History Month, a woman’s profile will be posted to the City of Birmingham’s social media platforms.

“I wanted to do this campaign because I wanted people to know what I see or hear daily: the amazing work women are doing to bring change to Birmingham. From groundbreakers and gamechangers to educators and entrepreneurs, women are blazing a trail with their vision, theirgrind and their advocacy.’’

As a servant leader, Mayor Woodfin has worked to uplift Birmingham’s residents and uphold the Magic City’s legacy, a legacy that will make Birmingham a magnet for the next generation of purpose-driven builders who embrace innovation. Many of those purpose-driven builders have been women.

“Since I have taken office, my administration and I have worked to define the goals of economic development. It’s a three-pronged strategy that revolves around jobs. I like to call it CPA,’’ Mayor Woodfin said.

“CPA stands for Job Creation. Job Preparation. Job Access. Several StrongHer nominees have helped in creating jobs, worked to prepare people to be better in the workforce or have benefited from job access. Meanwhile, other candidates have put foundations in place to grow mental health awareness, self-improvement programs, grassroots efforts and many other opportunities,’’ Mayor Woodfin said.

Take Janice Kelsey. On May 2, 1963, she was one of nearly 1,000 students who skipped classes to march and protest segregation in Birmingham. It was a peaceful protest in downtown Birmingham. But she was still jailed for four days. She said the experience, known as the Children’s Crusade, made her even more determined to speak up and speak out about injustice.

“I hope that what I did empowers young people to stand strong for their beliefs and do it in an honorable and peaceful manner,” said Kelsey, who wrote about her foot soldier experience in the 2017 book, “I Woke Up With My Mind on Freedom.’’

Later in March, the grandmother of five will visit Birmingham, England to share her story as part of a major United Kingdom’s exhibition about the role women, men and children played in the civil rights movement.

“What happened to me and hundreds of others in 1963, shows that you don’t have to be in charge of a movement to make a difference in a movement,” said Kelsey, a retired principal Powderly Elementary School now working with an educational program at Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

“Young people need to be informed by seeing and hearing the realities of the past,’’ Kelsey said. “Hopefully, they will be able to relate and learn from the past as a catalyst for change in a peaceful, non-violent manner today.”

For more information about StrongHer, please visit www.birminghamal.gov/strongher.

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