TALLADEGA -- Newly elected Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin was the keynote speaker Wednesday during Talladega College’s “Opening Convocation,” which celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King and Black History Month.
Talladega College students and faculty and community officials gathered at DeForest Chapel on campus to hear Woodfin’s message.
“I first want to say to the Talladega community, students, faculty and staff, it is truly an honor to be on this historic campus,” Woodfin said. “Being a Morehouse alumn, Talladega College feels like home.”
Atlanta’s Morehouse College, like Talladega College, is an HBCU (historically black colleges and universities).
Woodfin’s speech was directed to the students.
“Our country is at a crossroads,” he said. “Everyday people are struggling, but I have hope because of who I am standing in front of. We are a generation of 69 million strong -- and when we are encouraged, there is nothing that can stop us.”
Woodfin recalled his challenges while running for mayor of Birmingham.
“I heard everything from the naysayers, that I was too young and that it wasn’t my time, but we established a grassroots movement that spread to the masses,” he said. “We knocked on over 50,000 doors and made over 30,000 calls throughout the campaign. I remained steadfast in my message that we deserve better.”
The 36-year-old noted that many of his civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth all possessed one common trait: youth. Woodfin said neither man let age get in the way of accomplishing his goals.
“There is nothing more powerful than being unapologetic for you are,” he said.
Woodfin encouraged students not to “wait their turn” but to instead seek opportunity and leadership.
“You are black history, present and future,” he said. “We have come a long way, but we must keep moving forward.”
Woodfin, who took office in November, was born and raised in Birmingham and is graduate of Shades Valley High School.
At Morehouse, he majored in political science and served as student government association president. He received his law degree from Samford University-Cumberland School of Law.
Upon graduation, “Woodfin served as a public servant working with the city’s Division of Youth Services, the Birmingham City Council and the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity,” according to a press release.
In 2009, Woodfin became an assistant city attorney for Birmingham. He served as president of the Birmingham City school board from 2013-15.
Woodfin has also served as a board member for several area organizations, including the Birmingham Change Fund, Birmingham Education Foundation and the American Red Cross.
Said Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins, “Talladega College believes in your leadership and will stand behind you in anyway we can in the future.”