Today’s guest blogger is Roy Wood, Jr.
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I was furious when we moved to Birmingham.
Like most 2nd graders I had my network of friends. I was cool with the local guy at the corner store who gave me extra candy and I‘d finally earned a starting position on the little league team.
Life was good.
My father was already in Birmingham a year ahead of my mother and me. He was at WENN continuing his storied radio career and once he felt like Birmingham would be a good shoe that fits, he “gave the green light” for my mother and I to join him.
We settled in on a house on South Park Road in West End and it was through many adventures with my father that I experienced Birmingham and the people who held it dear. It was through my many afternoons traveling with my father that I learned Birmingham.
My father was a proponent of small business–quicker to choose a local pawn shop over Circuit City.
If he were hungry he’d go to LaVase Restaurant over a national chain.
As I got to middle school and developed a thirst for music, he never took me to Sam Goody or Turtles. My father would agree but insisted on taking me local music stores like T.P.I.R. records on 16th street or 8th Avenue Records in Collegeville.
I honestly can’t recall a time he ever set foot in a Walmart or a shopping mall.
Like seriously… ever.
Yet somehow, I still got everything I needed.
I soon left for college and after every trip home yielded another closed store. Soon they were all gone and chain stores became the only options.
I remember being out with my father and everyone knew him by name. He was on a first name basis with everyone he spent money with.
Those days were gone for a long time, but it seems to be coming back.
With each trip back to Birmingham I find myself becoming more and more like my father–looking to find small businesses to patronize. The fact they’re springing up more and more is amazing to see and I’m thankful to be able to spend money with local services whenever possible.
This is just the tip of the iceberg I believe.
In December I had an opportunity to be a part of the Alabama Bicentennial Celebration in Montgomery. It was a festive weekend set with a bevy of formal events, parades, and dedications all built around the idea celebrating what Alabama was while at the same time acknowledging the truth of what Alabama can be.
It wasn’t a day filled with ignoring the pain that Alabama has been connected to but a day to acknowledge people that are connected with pushing the state forward. The opportunity to meet Montgomery’s first black Mayor Stephen Reed was worth the trip alone.
What I saw in Montgomery were people of all walks showing up in the spirit of improving the state. And that left me with a feeling about what Alabama can become.
The city off Montgomery commemorated an all new Bicentennial park. And to be there and see reminds you of what Alabama can become. It was the type of event that can rejuvenate your spirit and put you in a better place just knowing you’re not alone in trying to change things.
Because at the end of the day it’s not our job to change the world, it’s your job to make your corner of the world better–if you do that then the world is a better place.
Roy Wood Jr., an American comedian and actor, has served as a correspondent for The Daily Show on Comedy Central with Trevor Noah since 2015. Wood was labeled one of the 10 comics to watch by Variety Magazine. He grew up in West End in Birmingham and attended Ramsay High School.
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org.