The Altamont School was honored to have Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin speak at a school-wide Black History Month Assembly Feb. 6, 2019. He came at the invitation of students in Altamont's Middle School LEAD program. These students gathered questions for Mayor Woodfin from the Altamont community and presented them in a panel-style format on the stage of the Cabaniss-Kaul Center for the Arts. Sophomore Matthew Mugweru moderated the event, 8th grade Middle School LEAD student Pranav Goli introduced Mayor Woodfin and 8th grade Middle School LEAD students Arthur Anders, Lewis Rand, and Sophia Sultan presented questions. Mayor Woodfin also fielded queries from the audience.
Mayor Woodfin addressed topics ranging from black history to education to gentrification to gun violence. Below are a few highlights from his conversation with the Altamont community:
On how to make politics less divisive:
"We can make politics less divisive by talking to everyone, including everyone, not just a handful of people. We must over communicate. Historically in America, people who disagreed politically could still get along with one another personally. That no longer seems to be true. People go to their opposite corners rather than coming together in the middle. Politics is the art of compromise. We must come together in the middle to solve problems. It is important for me as mayor to see the big picture and work toward solutions, to talk about issues on which we disagree.
Your generation will be the ones to make a difference in how American politics works. We have swung the pendulum too far in one direction, and it is a rude, hostile direction that encourages people to be silos. Your generation must bring that pendulum back to the middle. Your generation will be responsible for electing people to office who can get along with each other, even when they disagree."
On how he has been personally affected by black history
"Black history has had a profound impact on my life. It is more than a celebration in the month of February. Black history is Jan. 1 – Dec. 31; it is America's history. Growing up, my family, my community, my pastor always impressed upon me the importance of knowing my history. Four years of education at Morehouse College taught me even more about what it means to be a black man in America and the importance of making a difference. Understanding the struggle of Civil Rights in Alabama, in Birmingham, has shaped my vision for the city."
On the difference young people can make:
"Amplify your voice. Use your voice to speak out against things that are wrong or that you know can be better. We are here today to talk about black history. When the Civil Rights Movement activated children, when children moved to the front line of the movement, things started to shift. The Children's Crusade in Birmingham brought change. The youngest generation has always been responsible for making adults do what needs to be done."
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