Mayor Randall Woodfin
Q and A with Birmingham's Mayor.
Market Magazine: Mayor Woodfin, thanks for joining us. It’s been quite the year for Birmingham, and the world.
Mayor Woodfin: Thanks for having me. Yes, it’s been a challenging year but if there’s one thing Birmingham knows, it’s how to rebound from adversity.
Market Magazine: That’s true. A year ago this time, we were just coming to grips with COVID-19, and we know you’ve had your own struggles with that as well. How are you feeling, and how has COVID shaped your outlook on Birmingham’s future?
Mayor Woodfin: I can tell you from experience, COVID is real. Thankfully, I’m fully recovered from my bout with it but that doesn’t mean I still don’t take precautions.
My mother was in the high-risk group for COVID and I haven’t stepped foot in her house in months. She has now received her vaccination. My grandmother was acasualty of this dangerous disease. And I know my story is not unique. COVID has touched all our lives in unimaginable ways.
Masks are still important. Social distancing is still important. Vaccines are important. It is vital that everyone sign up to get vaccinated.
Every decision my administration has made over the past year has had one goal – saving lives.
No matter how unpopular or difficult, it’s my responsibility to safeguard our community. And I wasn’t alone in that – I have to personally thank our first responders, who worked day and night to keep us healthy. All the community organizations and faith groups who ran food drives to support families in need, all the parents and educators, who had to adapt to challenging circumstances to keep our children engaged and educated.
Fighting coronavirus is truly a community effort.
Market Magazine: On that note, what can you tell us about vaccines?
Mayor Woodfin: I can tell you the number and availability is growing. We’ve been in communication with the White House/ We constantly communicate with our local health leaders to identify ways to expand access to the vaccines, especially in underserved neighborhoods where the risk of this disease has been high.
We are committed to making sure everyone who wants the vaccine will get the vaccine. Again, I urge everyone to get the vaccine.
Market Magazine: COVID really altered life in countless ways last year, but one of the biggest disappointments was the postponing of the annual Magic City Classic
Mayor Woodfin: Listen, I was just as disappointed.
Market Magazine: But the Classic is back in a big way this year. Two games in one year. Can you tell us more about that?
Mayor Woodfin: Oh, definitely. April 17th at Legion Field, the tradition continues.
But keep in mind, for the safety of attendees, there will not be tailgating or a parade this year. Those decisions were made by the SWAC and the event promoters working closely with public health leaders.
You can get your tickets at magiccityclassic.com.
Market Magazine: With so much going on, why do you think it’s important to continue the tradition of the Classic?
Mayor Woodfin: You just said it, tradition. Now don’t misunderstand me, I don’t believe in doing things out of habit, especially when it could jeopardize the safety of our residents.
But the Classic is tradition, it’s part of the very fabric of our city. The Classic is the spirit of competition, it’s camaraderie, it’s a celebration of HBCU culture – it’s what we’ve been missing right now.
If we can continue that spirit, bringing that energy back to our city in a safe, fun way, let’s do it.
Market Magazine: Looking ahead, what’s next for Birmingham?
Mayor Woodfin: Progressing together. That’s our goal. Our eyes are always on moving the city forward, whether it’s in terms of keeping us healthy as we rebound from COVID, supporting individuals and families that suffered economically due to the pandemic and assisting our small businesses who were affected.
My top priority remains neighborhood revitalization. We have taken great strides in creating opportunities for minority and women owned businesses. And we must prepare for the future by providing opportunities for our students. The Birmingham Promise providesthose opportunities through apprenticeships for high school juniors and seniors and college scholarships for graduates of Birmingham City Schools. Our second class of Promise scholars will start college this fall.
Market Magazine: Last time we talked, you were very excited about the Birmingham Promise.
Mayor Woodfin: And I’m still excited! I feel like this is one of the most important initiatives to come out of our administration. Neighborhood revitalization goes beyond tearing down buildings and grass cutting. It’s also about investing in our future work force. We realize that college isn’t everyone’s destination. That’s why we have our apprenticeship tract where students get real-world experience and make contacts with leaders in their field.
Banks, hospitals, utilities – there are tons of options and we’re grateful for all our local partners.
Market Magazine: As we come away from the tumultuous 2020, what word best describes your train of thought as we hopefully move toward a brighter 2021?
Mayor Woodfin: That one word has to be progress. I mean, what other word best describes Birmingham? From our history that was quite literally forged from iron, to our civilrights legacy that showed the world the power of protest and the beauty of inclusion, progress is what drives us – and defines us.