The history of Black History Month goes back over 100 years ago to 1915 when historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Mooreland started the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Their goal was to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans. Their association started a week-long celebration to highlight the history of Black Americans. Then in 1976, President Gerald Ford was the first president to declare February, Black History Month and the month-long dedication has continued to be celebrated every February since.
This Black History Month, we wanted to highlight five Black female leaders that are paving the way and making history in Birmingham and the state of Alabama.
Liz Huntley is an Alabama native who currently works as a lawyer in Birmingham, AL. From overcoming a difficult childhood, Huntley was called to advocate for the children of Alabama through her work. Not only does her experience fuel her lawyer work but she also shares her story to serve as inspiration to others through her speeches, TedTalk, and memoir, More Than a Bird. In 2020, Huntley received Momentum’s Women of Impact award at the Momentum Leadership Conference to commemorate her years of work and impact in the state of Alabama.
Bobbie Knight is a Birmingham native who was elected as the first female President of Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama. Knight is an active member in the community through her philanthropic and civil support for a variety of causes. She retired in 2016 after working for Alabama Power Company for over 37 years and now she serves as CEO of her consulting company, Bobbie Knight Consulting, LLC. Bobbie Knight was a part of Momentum’s first class and we are thankful for her continued support.
Dr. Larhondra S. Magras was born and raised in Chicago where she began her passion for helping people. She was driven by the desire to have a career that had both meaning and purpose. She began her work with providing drug prevention and parenting programs in local schools where she works with students and their parents. Dr. Magras now serves the Birmingham community as the Executive Director of YWCA. The YWCA Central Alabama’s mission is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
Melanie Bridgeforth currently serves the Birmingham area in the role of CEO of the Women’s Fund of Alabama which advocates for gender and economic equity in the community. Bridgeforth is passionate about this mission because she always knew that she wanted to have an impact on the world. She told a story once to WVTM 13 News that one day after class, she told her professor at Alabama that she wanted to change the world. Her teacher responded that in order to do that, she needed to focus on policy changes. This grew her passion for advocacy work and raising awareness for policies that can heavily impact not only Alabama but the country.
Adrienne Starks is an Alabama native born in Fairfield, Alabama. She developed her passion for science through her education by studying Biology at Alabama A&M and then eventually going on to receive her PhD at University of Maryland Baltimore County in Biological Sciences. From her experiences of being a minority in her schooling experience, she developed a plan of creating Stream Innovations. Stream Innovations is a non-profit that serves in the Birmingham area as they help students develop their passion for science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and mathematics.
Ways that you can celebrate:
- Diversify your book-shelf and read black authors! Our favorite bookstore, Thank You Books has a great list of 25 books to check out this month. Click here to check it out!
- Attend Because of Them…We Can at Albert L. Scott Library on February 22, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Seasoned Red Mountain Theater performs and will present their showcase celebrating Black History Month. Click here for more information and register for free.
- Learn more about the history of Birmingham at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institution. This February, they are focusing on the wellness of Black Americans and how racism has affected their health over the years. Can’t make it in person? No worries! The BCRI has many resources and online exhibits for you to explore. Click here to learn more.