When asked to discuss how a key issue impacts our city, my first response is to emphasize how essential it is we work together as a metro area instead of operating as separate municipalities. I truly believe the Birmingham metro area is only strengthened by collectively working to improve infrastructure, education, law enforcement, and so on.
However, this week is different.
Considering the events that have unfolded over the past week in Charlottesville, I think there is a more pressing issue to discuss: race and acceptance in Birmingham, a city historically known for divisiveness.
During the 1960s, Birmingham was at the epicenter of segregation and brutality against people of color and Civil Rights activists
When you Google ‘Birmingham,’ images of Bull Connor ordering fire hoses and police dogs attacking men, women, and children are some of the first that come up. We can’t forget our city’s violent and divisive past, but we must embrace this history as an opportunity to work together for a better future.
Birmingham is at the cusp of major change with opportunities to grow all areas of the city. There is unprecedented investment in growth in our downtown area, spurring economic and artistic growth throughout greater Birmingham and providing an even greater sense of hope for the future of the city.
With an opportunity to change the image of Birmingham, we must show the world that we are united as a city, and that we have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind. The recent designation of having the Civil Rights National Monument, the Freedom Policy Center at A.G. Gaston Motel, and other aspects of the past will allow us to be at the head of racial conversations on a national level. We can be a city of inclusiveness, rather than divisiveness.
Regardless of political party, race, sex, or religious affiliation, we are all neighbors who are a part of the same community. We all have the ability to come together and show the nation what we can achieve.
We are stronger when we stand together. If we implement this ideology with our fellow Birminghamians, we can transform our historical image to one of acceptance, innovation, and opportunity, leaving behind a better Birmingham for future generations.
This is the type of city that young professionals seek after college. This is the type of community where we want to raise our children. As our nation has conversations of racial bias and inequality, let’s put Birmingham at the forefront of those conversations, but this time, let’s be on the right side of history.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
Hunter Williams is a local small business owner, deputy sheriff, and candidate for Birmingham City Council District 2. More about his platform can be found online at hunterwilliams2017.com.