Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell visited the Department of Government to help celebrate UAB's Civil Rights Movement commemoration. One of the many ways the College of Arts and Sciences is remembering and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the transformative civil rights events of 1963 is with special classes, and the Department of Government is a proud participant.
Mayor Bell spoke to the Civil Liberties and Rights class (PS 395, taught by Dr. Cole Taratoot) from the Department of Government as part of the kickoff of the civil rights portion of the class and the focus on racial discrimination. Bell is the current mayor of Birmingham and the third African American to be elected to that position. He has worked as a public servant in the city of Birmingham for nearly 30 years and his presence was a real honor.
Mayor Bell spoke to the class on the history of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, detailing the work of Revered Fred Shuttlesworth among others along with his own personal experiences growing up in Birmingham during a time when racial tension was high. He also shared his experiences as an African American elected official and some of the struggles and challenges that he faced in his career.
Mayor Bell left a lasting impression on the students with his vision of hope and optimism about the positive changes in race relations in the city of Birmingham. He shared his vision of helping it find its place as a true international city as outsiders begin to shed their preconceived notions of Birmingham based on its history.
Ultimately, the students were given a unique perspective on the civil rights movement and left with a positive vision of Birmingham's future.