Photo: Illustration of Mayor Randall Woodfin, art by Shanee Benjamin
My role as mayor of Birmingham, Alabama is to help create and maintain safe, sustainable communities. Reaching that goal means ensuring our streets are safe, that our residents can live without the threat of violence and that our youngest generation is able to grow, excel and reach their potential.
I’m the son of a grieving mother. My older brother was lost to gun violence, as was his son. I personally know the pain of losing a loved one suddenly and violently. And I certainly can speak to the void that is left in a family. As long as the mothers, brothers, fathers and sisters of our community live in fear of experiencing that same pain, we cannot rest. We must find solutions.
Safeguarding our streets means much more than putting more badges on street corners. We have to foster a sense of self-worth in our communities that goes deeper than increased police presence. Simply put, as mayor, it’s my duty to help my city value life.
Currently, in Birmingham, we’re in the midst of launching our #IncreasePeace anti-gun violence campaign. We’re giving members of our community whose lives have been devastated by gun violence an opportunity to tell their stories on video, which we’re sharing on our social media channels.
It’s through the telling of these stories — and the tangible emotion that they bring to the conversation — that we hope to make gun violence more than statistics and headlines. These are real people, still dealing with real pain. Their words ache with sorrow, but it’s their spirit of hope that really makes their stories resonate. This is how we change hearts — by making gun violence, which we have characterized here in Birmingham as a public health crisis, real, relatable and personal.
We save lives by reminding our community that every life is precious. From our #IncreasePeace initiative to a stronger emphasis on conflict resolution programs, we have to uplift this crucial point. Just look at Birmingham’s legacy: We were a city that confronted seemingly insurmountable cultural challenges and found a better way. We changed our world. That spirit still resides here. We’re committed to change. We’re committed to keeping our communities safer.
Randall L. Woodfin was sworn in as the 30th mayor of Birmingham, Alabama on Nov. 28, 2017.