Alabama Power and Birmingham Mayor William Bell held a news conference on March 12 outlining the company’s involvement with the city’s yearlong commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement’s 50th Anniversary.
“Alabama Power has been a part of this community for many, many years. Our company is headquartered here. We are invested in this community and have been since the 1920s. We are part of its history and committed to its future,” Bobbie Knight, Vice President of Alabama Power’s Birmingham Division, said.
“That is why we are proud and excited to be playing a role in the city’s commemoration of the important events in 1963. This is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate how far Birmingham has come in those 50 years and to honor the human rights heroes who helped make Birmingham move forward.”
The theme selected by Alabama Power for the participation of the commemoration is the “Power of Leadership.” Events the company will participate in range from panel discussions to art exhibits and charitable benefits.
“Alabama Power has stepped up in a big way to show their support of this endeavor and we are truly grateful,” Bell said.
The company is attempting to bring attention to lesser-known names of the Civil Rights Movement, business leaders and entrepreneurs who involved themselves in the fight for equality.
“Business and political leaders of tomorrow don’t have to restrict their studies to books by Jack Welch and Stephen Covey. There are practical lessons to be learned from the organizational skills of a Fred Shuttlesworth, the compassion of an Abraham Woods, the vision of an A.G. Gaston, the commitment of learning of Minnie Gaston or the commitment of community of Jesse J. Lewis,” said Knight.
Events that Alabama Power will be participating in featuring these unsung heroes will include the re-publishing of former Birmingham businessman and Civil Rights activist A.G. Gaston’s biography, Green Power, in March and “An Evening of Excellence” honoring Dr. Jesse J. Lewis, founder of the Birmingham Times newspaper, in September. In all, Alabama Power is sponsoring nearly 20 events commemorating the movement.
There are more than 100 organizations with ties to the Civil Rights Movement that have been supported by Birmingham’s corporate communities and as Mayor Bell explained, everyone has been “putting forward our best foot to show that Birmingham has made a tremendous transformation to this community.
“When we look back at the transformation that Birmingham has made we realize one thing: it took this entire community from the private sector, the civil rights leaders, the business community and governmental leaders to step to the forefront to make those changes in our community,” Bell said.
“We don’t realize it today, but it was very tumultuous times back then, but because of the efforts brought about by so many people, it was done.”
With the upcoming year and the events surrounding it, Alabama Power and the city are both looking forward to showing the world just how far Birmingham has come.
“This commemoration will take all of us and all of our organizations throughout this community to make sure the world knows that we have not only changed Birmingham, Alabama, and the South, but we changed the world,” Bell said.
For more information and a full calendar of events regarding Birmingham’s commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement, visit 50yearsforward.com.