Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin told Alabama State University students on Monday that their “time is now” to make their mark on the world. Woodfin was the guest speaker for ASU’s Thomas C. Steward Distinguished Lecture Series.
“I first want to say to the Hornets community, students, faculty and staff, it is truly an honor to be on this historic campus,” Woodfin said. “Being a Morehouse alum, ASU feels like home.”
Woodfin, who is the youngest ever elected mayor of Birmingham, recalled some of his many challenges while campaigning.
“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, Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth all possessed one common trait: youth. Woodfin said neither man “waited their turn” and never let age get in the way of accomplishing his goals.
“There is no such thing as waiting your turn,” he said. “Your time; our time, is now. There is no waiting.”
Woodfin said America is at a serious crossroads and students need to be aware of that as they go out into the world.
“Everyday people are struggling, but I have hope because of who I am standing in front of,” Woodfin said. “As Hornets, you are called upon to lead. There is an estimated 69 million millennials across this nation, and when we are woke and engaged, there is nothing that we can’t do.”
Woodfin encouraged students not to “wait their turn,” but to instead seek opportunity and leadership.
“Alabama State needs you,” Woodfin said. “The state of Alabama needs you. This country really needs you. We need your innovation. We need your leadership. We need your creativity. We need your passion. We need your drive. We need your hustle. We need your concern. We need your thoughts. We need your ideas. Most importantly, we need you to lead.”
The Thomas C. Steward Distinguished Lecture Series is named in honor of the Rev. Thomas C. Steward, a young white American Missionary Association teacher from Ohio, who searched the town of Marion, Ala., for pupils; and with the help of the Freedman’s Bureau, opened a school in the city’s Old Methodist Church in 1867. Steward was the first principal/president of The Lincoln Normal School of Marion, the institution that would one day become Alabama State University.