Former Birmingham Mayor Dr. Richard Arrington encouraged participants at the seventh annual Leadership Conference Celebrating Black History Month to build trust among all people, seek wisdom and develop courage.
The conference, which was held on the Troy Campus on Feb. 1-2, was presented by Troy University and the City of Troy. The theme of this year’s conference was “Cultural Diversity and Leadership Opportunities,”
Dr. Arrington made history in 1979 with his election as the first black Mayor of Birmingham and was re-elected four times, retiring in 1999 before the end of his fifth term. He served as a professor and administrator at his alma mater, Miles College in Birmingham, before running for mayor. A native of Livingston, Dr. Arrington earned his master’s degree from the University of Detroit and his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Arrington told the gathering that globalization and cultural diversity had brought about many changes in today’s world.
“If we are to succeed as a country, we must embrace social and economic change,” he said. “It is a different Alabama and a different world today than the one I grew up in.”
During the conference’s closing session, Pulitzer Prize winner Cynthia Tucker told participants that times had truly changed for blacks in America.
“If nothing has changed, then why bother?” she asked the audience of about 300 conference participants. “It’s dangerous if nothing has changed because it drains us of the faith and energy we need to forge ahead. …Things are a whole lot better.”
Tucker, editorial page editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. Her column “As I See It” is syndicated to more than 70 newspapers nationwide by the Universal Press Syndicate. She is a graduate of Auburn University and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University for the 1988-89 academic year. In 2000, Tucker won the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award. In 2006, the National Association of Black Journalists selected her as its Journalist of the Year.