Film 4, Testimonials
Such important work and so timely and needed.
Bending the Arc | The Vote is a film about the hard-fought battle to expand voting rights to all people in Alabama in the 1960s. The film will premiere on Tuesday, October 20, at 6:30 PM CST via YouTube. Register for the free virtual event on Facebook or Eventbrite.
The Beth El Civil Rights Experience is a multimedia project exploring the intersection of Birmingham’s Jewish and Civil Rights histories. This dynamic community history venture is comprised of original research, programming and educational initiatives and the development of an audio tour and visitor’s site featuring a short film, exhibit and interactive, facilitated experience.
You can learn more about the Beth El Civil Rights Experience by visiting their website or get in touch by emailing Margaret Norman.
The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA) is a community development and advocacy organization that champions economic equality, civic engagement, and social justice for Latino and immigrant families in Alabama. HICA was created in 1999 to address concerns relating to healthcare access, education, economic development, legal issues, and community outreach for immigrant Latinos.
Shannon Leutzinger is a graphic designer who has nearly ten years of experience working in marketing and advertising agencies as well as with in-house marketing departments. When approached by the Bending the Arc team to design the project’s branding, motion graphics, and marketing deliverables, she was honored. This project not only utilized her love of all things design and development, but it also tapped into her passion for history, community impact, and positive change.
The UUCB Justice Committee provides leadership for the social justice concerns of the church, metro area, state, nation, and the global community.
As a former Birmingham police officer and long-time resident of Birmingham, T.K. Thorne has a unique perspective on Alabama's largest city, which is still known by many for its central role in the Civil Rights campaign against segregation in the 1960s. In Behind the Magic Curtain - a reference to Birmingham’s nickname of “The Magic City,” which was earned during a period of remarkable growth in the early 20th century - Thorne peels back the veil of history to show the nuances of how the city shook off the stranglehold of segregationists led in part by Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor not just because of mostly-black civil rights marchers, but also by the progressive action of many white allies working behind the scenes in ways never fully explored. She also sheds light on how law enforcement monitored the Movement, and how journalists covered - or didn’t cover - the significant news story that would make Birmingham notorious.
Shelley Stewart’s long and arduous climb to success began at age five. That is the year he witnessed his mother’s murder at the hands of his alcoholic father. Family members shuffled young Shelley from house to house, but when he could no longer stand living with an abusive relative, he ran away at age six. Stewart endured homelessness, racial discrimination and depression, but he overcame those early hardships years later when he found his calling in radio. While working in Birmingham, the popular DJ became known as “Shelley the Playboy.” He also earned the unofficial title as “the voice of the civil rights movement” in the 1960s. During those years he made a practice of playing certain songs and repeating phrases on the air as secret codes that told teen activists where to meet up for protest demonstrations and rallies. In his memoir, The Road South, Stewart recounts his remarkable life, from child abuse survivor to celebrity radio host, entrepreneur and community leader.
(Grand Central Publishing)
In Selma 1965: The March That Changed the South, Charles Fager details one of the most consequential events in the American civil rights movement: the 54-mile, nonviolent protest march, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, from Selma to Alabama’s state capitol in Montgomery. Their aim: To push for equal voting rights for Black Americans. Those joining King included other civil rights leaders, clergy, celebrities, and ordinary citizens of various races. The triumphant march eventually led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law on August 6 of that year. Fager, a former staff member of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, gives readers a comprehensive overview of what happened on that historic, five-day trek for freedom and justice. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
The book A Walk to Freedom: the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, 1956-1964 tells the story of the civil rights movement in Birmingham led by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). Founded by the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, the ACMHR came into existence after Alabama banned the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from operating in the state. Through speeches, news stories, more than 200 photographs and personal remembrances from those who participated in the demonstrations to end segregation, A Walk to Freedom gives readers insight into the history of the movement as it unfolded in the Magic City in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1963, as tensions in Birmingham between white segregationists and Black civil rights supporters boiled, a bomb exploded at the Sixteen Street Baptist Church on September 15. The blast killed four innocent Black girls and injured other congregants. Soon after the tragedy, Charles Morgan Jr., a young, white attorney stood before members of the all-white Young Men’s Business Club and said that every white person who failed to condemn racism was as guilty as the bombers. He said, “Who did it? Who threw that bomb? The answer should be, ‘We all did it.’” His speech drew the ire of whites, and Morgan and his family eventually left Birmingham for Atlanta where he became a well-respected civil rights attorney. Morgan recalls that turbulent period in his memoir, A Time to Speak, published in 1964. (Harper & Row)
In The Newspaper Boy, attorney and writer Chervis Isom reminisces about his days growing up in Birmingham’s Norwood community, where he delivered newspapers as a boy. Isom grew up believing in the notion that whites like him were superior to Blacks— that is, until he met the new customers on his route, Helen and Vern Miller. The Millers were a young couple from the North and had viewpoints contrary to Isom’s opinions. The three of them began to engage in friendly debates over events in the news, and, over time, Isom started to question the belief system of his upbringing. The Newspaper Boy is a fascinating look at how Isom’s views on race evolved while he lived through some of the most consequential events in modern American history, from the civil rights demonstrations and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. (Chervis Isom)
In March 1965, civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo attended the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights. Hours later, while she was giving a ride to another activist, a carload of Ku Klux Klansmen pulled alongside Liuzzo’s vehicle and someone in the car shot and killed her. Liuzzo’s murder made national headlines and law enforcement quickly identified and captured the perpetrators. That is because one of the men in car was Gary Thomas Rowe, an FBI informant. But in The Informant: The FBI, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Murder of Viola Liuzzo, author and historian Gary May gives details from formally undisclosed FBI records and Department of Justice documents to uncover a far more complicated partnership between Rowe, the FBI and the Klan. In addition, May sheds light on the how the FBI was complicit in other attacks on civil rights activists in an effort to keep Rowe’s undercover work a secret. (Yale University Press)
Few books have delved into the role Unitarian and Universalist (UU) members played in the move to end racial discrimination like Southern Witness: Unitarians and Universalists in the Civil Rights Era. Written by author and UU minister Gordon Gibson, the book tells the story of the many UU ministers and laypeople who took extraordinary risks in the fight against Jim Crow segregation in the 1950s and 60s. Those individuals include the Rev. Donald Thompson in Jackson, Miss., who was shot and forced out of town by segregationists. In another case, the Ku Klux Klan harassed and firebombed the New Orleans church building and parsonage of the Rev. Albert D’Orlando. Gibson also describes the courage of members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham who helped facilitate the Selma voting rights marches in 1965. Southern Witness is a moving and powerful account of the UU members who dared to speak out against racial intolerance and injustice. (Skinner House Books)
Randall Jimerson and his four siblings moved with their parents from the North to Birmingham in 1961. Their father, the Rev. Norman C. “Jim” Jimerson, was on a mission from the Council on Human Relations to open up lines of communications between blacks and whites in Alabama. He carried out his duties as executive director of the Alabama Council on Human Relations by traversing the state to develop relationships with black and white ministers and key members of the civil rights movement, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Andrew Young, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy. Randall Jimerson writes about his father’s career in Shattered Glass in Birmingham. The book details the risks his father took, the many death threats he received, and the day when white clergymen rejected his plea to speak out publically against racism. (LSU Press)
During his lifetime, the Rev. W. Edward Harris was an activist and Unitarian minister who founded the Alabama Civil Liberties Union. He also led voter registration campaigns in Birmingham after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Harris, who was white, examines the contributions other white liberals made to the civil rights movement in his book, Miracle in Birmingham: A Civil Rights Memoir 1954-1965. In it, the author looks back at the tensions in the racially segregated city in the 1950s through 1965 and the bravery of liberal whites who fought alongside Black activists for equal voting rights and the abolishment of racial segregation. (Stonework Press)
Born Black in the segregated South in 1934, Birmingham native Shelley Stewart endured many setbacks in his life. He was five years old when he watched his alcoholic father attack and kill his mother with an axe. Afterward, Stewart and his younger brothers were left to fend for themselves until relatives took them into their homes. But the relatives turned out to be cruel themselves, subjecting the children to both physical abuse and psychological trauma. Stewart, however, survived and overcame the racism around him to eventually launch a successful career in radio. He became a popular radio talk show host and DJ, and, eventually, a station owner. He also founded a public relations firm and earned many awards and accolades. In Mattie C.’s Boy, biographer Don Keith tells the story of Stewart’s inspiring journey and amazing rise from a life of poverty and tragedy to one of triumph and hope. (New South Books)
Paul Hemphill left his hometown of Birmingham as a young man to become a newspaper reporter. He returned almost three decades later in 1992 to live and to reflect on what happened in the city in 1963, one of the most pivotal years in the history of the civil rights movement. In Leaving Birmingham, Hemphill, a former columnist for the Atlanta Journal, delivers a poignant memoir that highlights major historical events in the city such as the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four Black girls, the demonstrations led by Martin Luther King Jr., and law enforcement’s attacks on nonviolent demonstrators protesting segregation. Hemphill also writes about coming to terms with his past and his own father’s racism while capturing the stories of other longtime Birmingham residents, both black and white. (University of Alabama Press)
The bombing of a Black church in Birmingham that left four young girls dead in 1963 is arguably one of the most pivotal and tragic events in civil rights history. For decades, the perpetrators of that heinous crime remained free. Then in 1995, the FBI reopened the investigation. In Last Chance for Justice, author and retired Birmingham Police Precinct Captain T.K. Thorne gives readers an eye-opening look into the case. The book includes interviews with police detective Ben Herren and FBI Special Agent Bill Fleming. In addition, Thorne pulled together FBI summary reports and internal memos, transcripts from clandestine recordings, and trial transcripts to tell the story of how investigators brought Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry and his cohorts to justice. (Lawrence Hill Books)
In 1965, Detroit resident Viola Liuzzo, a white, married mother of five, traveled to Alabama to participate in the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights. She never returned home alive. After arriving in Alabama, Liuzzo volunteered to drive demonstrators back and forth between Selma and Montgomery, the state’s capital. On the night of March 25, Liuzzo had dropped off demonstrators in Selma and was driving Leroy Moton, a black civil rights worker, back to Montgomery when a car carrying four Klansmen pulled up alongside her vehicle. Someone in the car fatally shot Liuzzo, making her the first white woman killed in the civil rights movement. In From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo, author Mary Stanton tells the story of Liuzzo’s life, her murder, and why the FBI, under the directorship of J. Edgar Hoover, spread false stories about Liuzzo to divert attention away from an FBI informant who was one of the Klansmen in the car that fateful night. (University of Georgia Press)
The Morgan Project was founded in June 2020 to provide active and meaningful programs that work to eradicate systemic racism, develop a place for citizens to discuss the effects of racism on society, and champion equal justice for all. The group was established in the wake of civil unrest and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others, by several members of YMBC, a long-standing civic group in Birmingham who realized that it was time, yet again, to take a stand against racism. The project is named for the late Birmingham attorney Charles Morgan, Jr., who delivered a powerful speech after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, declaring that all of Birmingham’s citizens—not just those who threw the bomb, but also those who had been silent against racism—were guilty of the hateful crime.
The goal of Margins is to uplift and strengthen Black women and their ability to parent. The organization aims to intervene in poverty-stricken familial units and restore hope by providing practical support; this includes but is not limited to bill assistance, avenues for self-care, childcare, activities for children and parents and monetary help.
The Alabama Interfaith Refugee Partnership (ALIRP) is an interfaith group of religious leaders and laypersons, as well as representatives of other community groups, who have come together for the purpose of helping refugees and asylum-seekers, in light of the current migration crisis that has displaced millions of people. ALIRP’s goal is to support refugees and asylum seekers here in Alabama through advocacy, education, and direct support.
The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) is a grassroots, statewide network of individuals and organizations that works to advance and defend the rights of immigrants in Alabama. ACIJ consists of six non-profit organizations, and hundreds of individual members. The coalition is leading Alabama to a more equitable and just multi-ethnic, multi-lingual future—building a better Alabama for everyone, from the ground up.
The Grassroots Coalition of Birmingham is a collective of local grassroots-minded non-profits, professionals, activists, and community leaders seeking to create and promote a Black Economic Agenda as a form of restorative justice and as one of the first steps in promoting social cohesion in the Birmingham Metro Area. A key goal of the organization is to create a best practices model for elected officials, candidates for upcoming elections, coalition members, and concerned citizens.
Faith in Action Alabama seeks to help create a society free of economic oppression, racism and discrimination, in which every person lives in a safe and healthy environment, is respected and included, and has agency over the decisions that shape their lives. The organization is building a people-powered movement based on the belief that organizing is the best way to address the spiritual and material crises facing our society.
Our Firm Foundation seeks positive change in the community by implementing a multi-generational approach to mentoring, allowing children and their parents and guardians to thrive. The foundation provides courses on social emotional learning (SEL), science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), along with career mentoring to families in Birmingham City Schools.
The People’s Justice Council was founded with a vision to create a just, equitable, sustainable world by connecting people with policy. The organization engages and equips communities with tools to build power from the grassroots up and to fight for justice at the policy level.
The Offender Alumni Association’s mission is to create a network of former offenders who inspire each other to reduce recidivism, develop healthy relationships within their communities, and provide opportunities for social, economic, and civic empowerment.
The Institute for Human Rights serves as a platform for research and education on human rights with a particular focus on the struggle of vulnerable and marginalized populations, including minorities, refugees, women, children, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and people dealing with the consequences of poverty. The IHR’s content-related emphasis is on the social movements associated with human rights—the bottom-up approach and grassroots efforts that lead to empower communities to claim their human rights.
The Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity (JCCEO) seeks to reduce poverty and help low-income citizens of Jefferson County, Alabama to meet critical needs and become self-sufficient.
The Voters Legal Watch Group is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded on the principle of securing voter equality and fairness in the legal system. Their mission is to hold our elected officials and political candidates accountable and to fight for fair treatment and justice for all people.
The Black Economic Alliance is a coalition of business leaders and aligned advocates committed to economic progress and prosperity in the Black community, with a specific focus on work, wages, and wealth.
As a boy growing up in Alabama, Pulitzer-prizewinning columnist and Birmingham News journalist John Archibald admired his Methodist minister father. The Rev. Robert L. Archibald, Jr., was the son and grandson of Methodist preachers. He was a good man, a good father and a good and well-liked minister, admired by many. He preached Biblical principles and offered words of inspiration to his flock. But during the civil rights era in the 1960s, as blacks protested racial segregation, fought for the right to vote, and endured violent attacks from white supremacists, the Rev. Archibald was silent. Others had warned Rev. Archibald against preaching about Martin Luther King Jr., and the civil rights movement. Doing so would have angered his congregation and led to ostracism, threats or even worse. And with a family to support, much was at stake. In Shaking the Gates of Hell, John Archibald comes to grips with his father’s silence and the complicity many Christian churches had in the systemic racism that civil rights activists fought to end. (Knopf)
Whenever the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., visited Selma, Alabama, he often dropped by the home of Dr. Sullivan and Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson. Sullivan Jackson and his wife, Richie Jean, provided succor to the civil rights movement and opened their home to King, where he could strategize with other civil rights leaders such as Andrew Young, John Lewis, and Ralph David Abernathy. In The House by the Side of the Road: The Selma Civil Rights Movement, Richie Jean recalls the meetings that occurred in the months leading up to Bloody Sunday, the fateful March 7, 1965, Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights in which state troopers attacked the marchers. In addition to being a secret meeting place, the Jackson home occasionally served as a respite for MLK, whenever the weary civil rights leader needed rest, sleep, or to get away from it all. (University of Alabama Press)
On a Sunday morning, September 15, 1963, a blast rips through the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham killing four young black girls. The real-life bombing serves as the backdrop for Birmingham native Sena Jeter Naslund’s novel Four Spirits. The central character is white college student Stella Silver, who after the deaths of the four church girls and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, leaves her world of relative privilege behind to teach a high school equivalency course at Miles College, an HBCU in Fairfield, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham. There she meets colleague Christine Taylor whose impatience with segregation compels her to participate in civil rights work despite being a single mother. Christine’s friend, Gloria Callahan, a young, black musician, manages to overcome her fears to teach at a Freedom School. “Four Spirits” blends fictional characters of both races with real-life events and civil rights icons for a compelling look at a movement that transformed a nation. (Harper Collins)
Foot Soldiers for Democracy is a collection of the oral histories of 29 ordinary men and women – from teachers and college students to domestic workers, war veterans and a leader with the Black Panthers – who risked their lives to fight for racial equality. While their stories and perspectives are diverse, every narrative illustrates the passion of individuals determined to end segregation, the risks they took, and the fear they overcame in the face of threats of violence from white supremacists, the police, politicians and others bent on maintaining the white power structure. The oral histories are taken from the archives of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Through these stories, historians Horace Huntley and John W. McKerley bring to life the people who helped transform American society. (University of Illinois Press)
In Carry Me Home, investigative journalist and Alabama native Diane McWhorter examines Birmingham’s racial history, the activists who pushed for desegregation and the events leading up to the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four young Black girls. But McWhorter also gives readers an inside look the role the city’s privileged class played during the civil rights era. Specifically, she paints for readers a picture of her life growing up in Mountain Brook, a wealthy Birmingham suburb on what she calls “the wrong side of the revolution.” Her father came from a well-to-do family and joined forces with those opposed to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent demonstrations to end racial segregation. In telling her father’s story, McWhorter gives readers insight into the alliances between the city’s Big Mule elites and the lower-class Klansmen who carried out their wishes, with violent and sometimes deadly results. Carry Me Home won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. (Simon & Schuster)
On March 7, 1965 state troopers in Selma, Ala., brutalized nonviolent protesters bound for Montgomery to advocate for voting rights. Following the horrific attack, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on March 9 issued a call to clergy around the country to come to Alabama and join demonstrators on a second attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery. In his book, Call to Selma: Eighteen Days of Witness, author Richard Leonard recalls what happened when he, a 37-year-old Unitarian minister from New York City, answered the call. Leonard takes readers on a journey as he and other ministers joined King and the civil rights demonstrators on what would become a historic 54-mile march to Alabama’s capital city. (Skinner House Books)
Outside of the city of Birmingham, remarkably few people know the story of Fred Shuttlesworth, the fiery minister who was at the forefront of efforts to desegregate public accommodations from schools to bus terminals and more. Before Martin Luther King came to Birmingham -- at Shuttlesworth’s invitation - to lead a campaign for freedom now well known as key to the civil rights movement, Shuttlesworth was a thorn in the side of Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor, and a frequent target of white supremacist violence, from beatings to bombings. And beyond Shuttlesworth, there were more, many more Birmingham revolutionaries striving to dismantle a system of racial oppression which made Birmingham what King called “the most segregated” city in the country. The book features incisive research by scholars and veterans of the movement brought together to help make the case for the critical importance of the work by the ACMHR - the organization Shuttlesworth formed when Alabama outlawed the NAACP.
Alabama was a battleground state in the struggle for human rights, and in 1963 Birmingham was the beachhead where Martin Luther King, Fred Shuttlesworth and an army of freedom fighters made their nonviolent stand against legalized racial segregation. The foot soldiers in that struggle were often women and Birmingham school children who not only risked expulsion but the same punitive action Bull Connor brought on the adults, snarling police dogs, the brutality of powerful water cannons which blasted them down Birmingham’s streets, jailing in inhumane conditions, and systematic injustice at the hands of local officials and white supremacists who acted largely with impunity. While the tragic culmination of that dramatic summer was the terror bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church and the murder of four little girls, many of the foot soldiers stories leading up to that day had not been told. Birmingham Foot Soldiers features the accounts of people who were there - unsung civil rights heroes who in their youth had marched in the Children’s Crusade, slept on hard iron cots in jail and been packed like animals in makeshift cages at Birmingham’s fairgrounds.
Dramatic footage, photographs and news accounts have burned the brutal story of Bloody Sunday into the consciousness of anyone engaged in the human rights struggle. Dramatized in movies that focus on the day Alabama State Troopers and their club-wielding associates mercilessly attacked peaceful Civil Rights marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, there are still stories to be told by those who were there. Lynda Blackmon (Lowery) and her sister were teenagers among the thousands menaced, tear gassed, beaten but determined to fight for the right to vote in Alabama. Lynda’s perspective - as the youngest person to complete the march from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King, John Lewis and others - gives a rare and raw look at what it was like during the march that took freedom activists from tragedy to triumph. This memoir has earned commendation in literary circles, winning A Sibert Informational Book Medal Honor Book, Kirkus Best Books of 2015, Booklist Editors’ Choice 2015, BCCB Blue Ribbon 2015.
Sarah Collins was the only child who was wounded but survived the infamous 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham Alabama in September 1963. The tragic loss of her sister Addie and three other friends led to lifelong injury and trauma that impacted her life even as it shocked the world into the reality of white supremacist hatred in America. In her new book, she takes stock of her life, her survival and puts the Civil Rights Era bombing into context with today’s ongoing racial struggles. Rudolph continues to use her unique vantage point on one of America’s defining moments to seek justice and to make clear in stark terms that there has always been a cost to be paid by those who would fight for freedom.
In 1963, Alabama’s largest newspaper was The Birmingham News, and its reporters and photographers had a ringside seat to the powerfully impactful events unfolding before, during and since the Birmingham Campaign for civil rights. During that year, when the eyes of the nation and beyond were on Birmingham, a huge archive of documentation was collected, and remained in the morgue of the News for decades. In 2012, a year away from the 50th anniversary of the ‘63 struggles, writer Barnett Wright - then a reporter for the News - chronicled the day-to-day stories that captured what had been happening in the city surrounding the protests, demonstrations, arrests, and bombings that would eventually draw national media, federal intervention, international condemnation against the ongoing oppression of black citizens, and eventually, change in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Wright’s book offers an unprecedented look into the deep archives of the News, and another important insight into Birmingham’s reality in a year that helped shape the era.
The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
The goal of the Office of Social Justice and Racial Equity is to create a just and equitable Birmingham. Through advocacy, engagement, and implementation, the office seeks to employ social justice as a core principle in City of Birmingham policies, operations and decision-making.
The Jefferson County Memorial Project is a grassroots coalition composed of more than 35 community partners and a multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-sector, and multi-generational group of committed volunteers. The four goals of the project are to (1) research Jefferson County’s 30 documented racial terror victims and their descendants; (2) educate the public on the importance of this history; (3) place historical markers at lynching sites and retrieve the Jefferson County monument from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice; and (4) advocate for reform where racial injustice still exists in Alabama today.
The Birmingham Urban League, founded in 1967 as part of the National Urban League, is a community-based organization dedicated to empowering communities and changing lives in the areas of education, jobs, housing, and health. The mission of the organization is to enable underserved residents to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.
Greater Birmingham Ministries (GBM) was founded in 1969 in response to urgent human and justice needs in the greater Birmingham area. BGM is a multi-faith, multi-racial organization that provides emergency services for people in need and engages the poor and the non-poor in systemic change efforts to build a strong, supportive, engaged community and pursue a more just society for all people.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a national movement on the front lines of fighting racial injustice. The Birmingham metro chapter of BLM shares resources that promote racial equality in Birmingham—from educational events to socials to political organizing and more.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) stands as a national authority on the history of the Civil Rights Movement. BCRI reaches more than 150,000 individuals each year through their programs and services, and the Institute itself brings people from all over the country.
Alabama Arise is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals united in the belief that people in poverty are suffering because of state policy decisions. Through Alabama Arise, groups and individuals join together to promote policies to improve the lives of Alabamians with low incomes. Arise provides a structure in which Alabamians can engage in public debates to promote the common good.
Dr. Wilson had a 37-year career as a nursing faculty member, retiring in 2015 as Professor Emerita from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Wilson has a long-standing interest in social justice, global health and international nursing. She served as Fulbright Scholar and Specialist in Chile, Zambia, and Malawi, and following her retirement she established a Refugee Interest Group through the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham (UUCB). This group subsequently achieved 501C3 status as a non-profit charitable organization called the Alabama Interfaith Refugee Partnership. Dr. Wilson served on the Planning and Evaluation Committee for the Bending the Arc film project and assisted with preparing grant proposals for this project.
At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Kurata served as chair of the English department, university Director of Core Curriculum Enhancement, and Interim Associate Provost for Undergraduate Programs. Honors include selection as an Outstanding First Year Student Advocate by the National Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition, two Difficult Dialogue grants from the Ford Foundation, a Core Commitments grant from the AAC&U, and multiple grants supporting her scholarship in Victorian studies. Her commitment to strengthening town-gown partnerships and promoting diversity are additionally reflected in her 15 years of service on the Alabama Humanities Foundation Board of Directors and 10 years on UAB’s One Great Community council.
Gail Allyn Short is an award-winning writer and freelance journalist based in Birmingham, Alabama. She specializes in writing about business, government, social issues, education and faith for local, regional and national publications. Her work has appeared in American Profile, American City & County Magazine, Outreach, Business Alabama Magazine and Birmingham Watch, to name a few. She has covered everything from the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee and the minimum wage to the intersection between race and public education. When she isn’t working, she is volunteering in her church’s outreach programs. The work has included ministering to women at a work-release center in Birmingham. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Gail joined the Bending the Arc project in 2021 and is looking forward to telling the stories of the civil rights movement’s brave foot soldiers.
Reverend Conrady is the Settled Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham since 2018. The focus of her ministry is on healing religious trauma, making connections with one another and the community at large, and advocating for justice in our institutions and communities. She strives to highlight marginalized voices and to be a better ally. Rev. Conrady is a frequent panelist for social justice conversations, including racial justice, reproductive justice, immigrant justice, and intersectionalities. Before moving to Birmingham, she worked as a hospital chaplain for 6 years, focused on trauma, end-of-life care, and children's health. When not working, Rev. Conrady is with her family: Josh Flores, educator and stay-at-home dad, children Stark and Ezio, and their black cat, SamIAm.
Holly Hilton is currently the Grants Manager at YWCA Central Alabama. She has had a long career in nonprofit fundraising, including serving as Development Director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, Major Gifts Manager at The Nature Conservancy of Alabama, and Administrator of the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham. A member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham for the past 22 years, she has been a Board member and Secretary of the Board and has served on numerous committees; she is the proud parent of one teenager who is thoroughly enjoying the UUCB youth program. She has helped facilitate production of the Bending the Arc films through fundraising and publicity.
For almost three decades Dr. Weaver was a history instructor at Jefferson State Community College. She says that teaching the Western Civilization sequence, together with her Ph.D. studies, broadened her understanding of the peoples, events, and movements that have shaped the modern world. She continues to draw on that knowledge in an endeavor to make sense of the complex and ever-expanding world in which we find ourselves. For many years she was also the archivist for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham. With input from many local UUs, she compiled a well-received history of the church, published in 2018. Because of the church’s active involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, the events of that on-going struggle necessarily figured prominently in her record of the church’s history. It is in this capacity that she serves on the advisory committee of the Bending the Arc film project.
Virginia Volker is a Birmingham Unitarian who grew up in Sylacauga, Alabama (the home of the Ku Klux Klan) in the 1940s and 1950s and became a lifelong activist in the fight for human rights. Virginia was one of the early white activists in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham in the 1960s, participating in lunch counter sit-ins and integrated meetings (which were illegal in Alabama at the time). She is the daughter-in-law of Dr. Joseph Volker, who is considered the “father” of the University of Alabama in Birmingham and who facilitated desegregation of UAB’s hospitals and clinics; Dr. Volker was also the founder of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham, which was the first church in the city to open its doors to people of all races, hosting integrated meetings (again, at a time when such meetings were against the law) and promoting racial equality, despite multiple threats to the church and its members.
Antoine and Tanja Bell are both members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham. The couple has been members of the church since 2017, but Tanja has been affiliated for more than 10 years, during which she was heavily involved with the church's Justice Committee. After serving on the UUCB Board of Trustees, Antoine was elected in 2020 to serve as Board President. He is the first African American president in the history of UUCB. Together, the Bells have served in the church as worship chairs and lay ministers. They also have led workshops on Diversity and Equity and Inclusion. Professionally, Antoine is a veteran communications professional, with a background in broadcast, print, and marketing; he worked in athletics administration for 30 years. He headed up the Athletic Communications Department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, as well as serving as Athletic Director. On occasion, he continues to work at athletics events as a consultant. Currently, Antoine works in the College of Continuing Studies at the University of Alabama as the manager of Business Development and College Relations. Meanwhile, Tanja is a land acquisition and compliance professional, managing the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program at the Birmingham Airport Authority. Tanja has also worked as a community organizer for the Alabama Citizens for Constitution Reform. Antoine and Tanja are the owners of a consulting business and are developing a podcast entitled "The Couples Conversation" that will focus on relationship dynamics.
Dr. Diane Tucker is a Professor of Psychology and the Founding Director of the Science and Technology Honors Program in the Honors College at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Tucker grew up in Iowa and moved to Birmingham in 1985 to join the faculty at UAB; she joined the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham in 1995, drawn to the church’s legacy of living its values through the Civil Rights struggle and its continuing commitment to a liberal religious community. Diane is honored to be among the team that has facilitated production of Bending the Arc.
Bending the Arc | The Vote is a film about the hard-fought battle to expand voting rights to all people in Alabama in the 1960s. The film premiered on October 20, 2020 on YouTube.