Birmingham’s surprising opportunity

Birmingham from Railroad ParkBy David Sher

Larry Ellison announced this week he plans to make Nashville Oracle’s world headquarters.

National media announced this week that JD Sports plans to acquire Hibbett, a public company headquartered here in Birmingham.

Birmingham used to have 30 public companies headquartered here. Now we will drop from eight to seven.

There is hope for Birmingham…but it doesn’t appear to be coming from big companies moving their headquarters here.

Birmingham’s economic future may depend on people not born in America.

This thought came to me while watching  CBS 60 Minutes about Quantum Computing, a revolutionary new kind of technology that will solve problems in minutes that would take today’s supercomputers millions of years.

The 60 Minutes story proclaims that the country that’s most successful with Quantum Computing and Artificial Intelligence will lead the world.

What struck me was that every single expert interviewed about Quantum Computing lived in America, but was born outside the U.S.

This made me think back to the most read column in ComebackTown’s twelve year history: Local Entrepreneur sells company for $1.2 billion—big win for Birmingham.

The column tells the story of Shegun Otulana who moved to Birmingham in 1998 from Lagos, Nigeria to attend UAB, where he studied engineering and management information systems.

Shortly after graduation, he started Zertis, a computer software company.

He  then founded TheraNest, a software solution for mental and behavioral health providers.

In May of 2021, he sold Therapy Brands, TheraNest’s parent company, for $1.2 billion.

Then he founded Harmony Venture Labs (HVL), an entity whose goal “over the next 10 years is to launch 40 new startups in Birmingham– with an aggregate value in the billions of dollars.”

Another huge Birmingham business success

In January, 2022, Pack Health, another Birmingham startup, was sold to Quest Diagnostics for $123 million in cash.

Pack Health was founded by Dr. Mazi Rasulnia, Will Wright, and Dr. Sanjay Singh. Dr. Rasulnia was born in Persia and Dr. Singh in India.

In January of this year, Pack Health announced plans to double the size of its headquarters in Birmingham and add 200 additional employees.

All three of the aforementioned men either graduated from or worked at UAB.

Other non-native born Americans with ties to UAB include Anupam Agarwal, Senior VP Medicine & Dean UAB Heersink School of Medicine and Dr. Keshav K Singh, a UAB scientist, inventor, and business man who is known for his work unlocking the mysteries of mitochondria in Life and Longevity. He is among Stanford’s list of the top 2% of scientists in the world. Both men are from India.

I have a heart valve problem and my doctor is Dr. Mustafa Ahmed, a world renowned UAB interventional cardiologist who treats heart valve and structural heart disease. Since its likely one day I will need a replacement heart valve, I’m fortunate Dr. Ahmed is at UAB. Dr. Ahmed was born in Nottingham, England.

Zeke Hernandez, a Wharton Professor and global strategist, recently published a groundbreaking book, “Why successful societies welcome newcomers, The Truth about Immigration.

He writes that “nearly half of the companies in the Fortune 500 were founded by immigrants or their children. Immigrants today are responsible for 36% of all patents in the U.S. And immigrants are 80% more likely than native born to start their own business.”

The Birmingham Lede states that Jefferson County’s population declined almost 2% since 2020 with 3,417 people moving away. However, 818 people made an international move to the Birmingham area making Jefferson County the top spot in the state for international arrivals.

We must welcome immigrants to Birmingham 

For folks who get upset when they hear the word ‘immigration,’ this column is about legal immigration, not illegal immigration. We must not confuse the two.

UAB gives us the mechanism to take advantage of the talents of people born anywhere in the world.

We must recognize that men and women born outside the USA, many associated with UAB, will define Birmingham’s future.

Author’s note: There are scores of immigrant scientists, doctors, business people and professionals making a difference in Birmingham. Please free to include their names in the comments section.

David Sher is the founder and publisher of ComebackTown.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Click here to sign up for our newsletter. 

Invite David to speak for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com.

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70 thoughts on “Birmingham’s surprising opportunity”

  1. Oh, but it IS political now. Regardless of your intent, there are xenophobic forces at play that have made it political. And that’s a shame since our country, since colonization and the displacement of indigenous people, has always been a nation of immigrants and their descendants, whether they came over intentionally or were brought over against their will.
    Please call it political. I have become so tired of having to soft-pedal my views because I live in an aggressively conservative state. And thank you for highlighting just a few of the contradictions to the bigotry that has tried to redefine the immigrant in our time.

    1. Tues., 4/23/24

      Edward Journey,

      Hey Edward…Not so sure that it’s “political”, as it is cultural.

      And let me assure you that there are “xenophobic” forces all over this fragmented country of ours, not just Alabama. Not anymore…Even in the so-called “liberal” states…

      …Hey, I lived in wacky California for 14 years, and when I (initially) made the mistake and said that I was from “Alabama”…WOW…Those California munchkees gave me a wide birth, and it ain’t because I do speaketh my mind…

      And that brings me to one last point :

      Quote :

      “…the displacement of indigenous people…”

      Displacement ?…I do suspect it was a bit more than “displacement”…

      Quote :

      “I have become so tired of having to soft-pedal my views because I live in an aggressively conservative state…”

      The only way to stop “soft-pedaling” is to stop “soft-pedaling”…It’s like a bad habit. A vocal tic. If you will.

      You think for one nanosecond the right wing “soft-pedals”?

      Living in a conservative state is the best therapy to learn how to not ever… ever…”soft-pedal” it, or the folksy “soft-mannered” (meaning passive-aggressive !) “Southern hospitality” citizens won’t hesitate to walk all over you, your kin, your pet dog…Whatever.

      You’ll have to trust me on this…There are even some folksy folks around on this-here blog who’ll lend you sound advise that I am not one who ever…EVER !…”soft-pedals” it !…

      Cheers !

      ~ Ballard from Huntsville

      1. Great words, sir. However, Huntsville is different than anywhere in the US and hard to explain to those in other states. I saw no rednecks or racism in Huntsville and my neighborhood was full of people from other parts of the world.

        1. Thurs., 4/25/24

          Michael Rucker,

          Yeah tell me abut it.

          A few miles outside Huntsville’s city limits and yer back in yeeha land.

          But you know the funny thing about that is you can venture less than 50 miles outside of San Francisco, and you may as well be in Southern Alabama. Per capita there are more red pick-ups, yahoos, and rednecks in all of California…than there are in the entire South.

          I don’t mind the yoyos & heckles & jeckles…I do mind the ignorance and the racism, latent/veiled or otherwise.

          In Montgomery it would appear that racism remains unabashedly unveiled, unmasked and self-righteous…

          Nothing new there.

          ~ Ballard from Huntsville

  2. As an interloper myself who was not born in this city or county or state I certainly understand why many Black Americans have left Birmingham and Alabama! Immigrants and Independent Interlopers like myself like the challenges that racism presents!!!

  3. Tues., 4/23/24

    David Sher,

    Yes David, I think you’re right.

    And there is much irony in this.

    I’m a misplaced/displaced “Yankee” clueless Caucasian and I know that my own hometown, Huntsville, was (for the past several decades) really “founded”, and has grown (and still growing), by those “commie” immigrants and “outside agitators”…

    (LOL!!)…

    Welcome to the fray, my friend !

    ~ Ballard from Huntsville

    1. All of us are Immigrants from some other country except the Native Americans so why all this hate and exploitation of each other’s place of origin?
      This city has lots of Immigrants and more will come inspite of the anti DEI crowd!

      1. George Munchus…

        Too late in the game, George…Asking why.

        The hate. The fears. The confusion. The wholesale ignorance of both old and new generations; new generations breeding like rabbits…like we don’t already live on a planet bloated by our species.

        All of it…Blooming like the weeds you never pulled in your garden.

        At least since Reagan and his moronic, deceptive “trickle down”…Yeah…Trickle down…

        Oh.

        And did I mention Reagan opening the “closet” door to his televangelist buddies and superstitious religious fanatics…over four decades ago ?…Putting our society back 100 years…

        Hardly a day goes by when you can’t feel the insidious ramifications of the so-called “conservatives” of the past four decades.

        Too late, my friend. Too late.

        ~ Ballard from Huntsville

        1. Too late as the Immigrants are still coming to Birmingham and even unknowing they are in Alabama!!! Even some of the Confederates in Montgomery are taking note.! Senate Bill 129
          Is now law?Or is it?

          1. 4/23/24

            George…

            Please tell me about that bill !…

            …Closet confederates…no doubt…

            I suffered the misfortune of having lived a couple months (all I could stand !) in that wretched town…as a photojournalist for the Advertizer…Worst, most ignorant Southern town I’ve ever seen, lived in, passed through…whatever… and I’ve been in some bad ones in Mississippi !!…

            ~ Ballard from Huntsville

          2. Senate Bill 129 is the anti DEI bill that is now law!
            Go to the legislature website! It is heavily focused on race in public higher education in Alabama!
            You might go to Al.com and google such!
            I suspect in due time Black Football and Black Basketball players will be furloughed at Alabama and Auburn once the SEC heats up this Fall?

          3. Senate Bill 129 is the anti DEI bill that is now law!
            Go to the legislature website! It is heavily focused on race in public higher education in Alabama!
            You might go to Al.com and google such!
            I suspect in due time Black Football and Black Basketball players will be furloughed at Alabama and Auburn once the SEC heats up this Fall?
            Remember how Paul Bear Byrant became a Black Linebackers Matter back in the day!

          4. George Munchus,

            …Yep…26 to 7…Alabama Senate…Yahoo !…Hey…

            You think maybe Alabama will secede from the union the way some moron in the Texas legislature “threatened” to back during Molly Ivin’s time ??…Hope Springs Eternal…

            (Molly on on James M. Collins, U.S. Representative, R-Dallas) :

            “If his IQ slips any lower we’ll have to water him twice a day.”

            Damn I miss her !

            ~ Ballard from Huntsville

          5. Alabama and Texas and Florida and Oklahoma left America the Beautiful decades ago! I am surprised they have not crafted and pass legislation creating the CSA again?! I see no mandated DEI in state universities in Alabama?!Do you? Are you WOKE in 2024?

          6. George Munchus

            WOKE ?

            Unfortunately…Yes…And I loathe politics !…Please shoot me and put me out of my misery !!!

            Mandated ? LOL !!

            ~ Ballard from Huntsville

          7. James you have to learn how to do the “work around “ as many immigrants have learned !
            I work with them and they rarely engage in racial discussions in public. Many do have very strong opinions in private I have discovered once they read the 1619 Project involving the enslavement of African people in America. They see the vestiges in practice today. I greatly admire their resilience in pushing pass their stereotypes!

          8. Thurs., 4/25/24

            JS

            Kidnapped ?

            Nah…They were just being…uh…”displaced”…My own family had a chronic history of…displacement…(voluntary, of course).

            I know’d my great grandmother, Lily Fleming-Ballard, was 90% Cherokee…the remainder, most likely, African American. She homesteded in Spa, Kentucky. (The Cherokee Nation often adopted freed slaves, and some of the Ballard clan were among them)…Ironic , to say the least, since both sides of my family go back to the 17th century House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, Virginee…(Another irony, most of my American ancestors, from both sides, were Southern…Took me awhile to gitz over that.)

            And before that, both sides go back to nobility and Royalty…(Wiki the “Black Dinner”; it was Billy-Boy Crichton who executed his rival(s) after dinner…That naughty Billy-Boy…a man after my own heart !)…

            ~ Ballard from Huntsville

          9. Thurs., 4/25/24

            George Munchus

            “Very stong opinions in private”…Yeah…”in private”…That speaks volumes.

            Reminds me of the bad habits of Victorians in “polite society”.

            Some choice Alabama legislators may indeed be engaged in push-back, but frankly, I personally would not wish to habituate myself in “working around” (the enlightened) folksies who wear so many masks they even fool themselves, looking into their home mirrors…

            And is it not a simple matter of survival for immigrants to “work around it”…?…Kind of sad to think I would have to conduct my life that way.

            ~ Ballard from Huntsville

  4. AMEN, David!
    Alabamians should welcome with open arms professionals and scientists and entrepreneurs from
    everywhere! They come with their families to start-up again.. advance their skills.. provide their services – not unlike the Pilgrims seeking a new way with the promise of freedom , And their success will benefit all of us. Our legislators need to think about this before enacting laws that limit those freedoms and discourage immigration!

  5. David, thank you for this positive article. Birmingham natives don’t want to believe that there families are all immigrants. So many BHM log time residents are of Italian, Irish, Middle Eastern origin and that helps make the city great. I am from AL and miss when BHM was a great city with jobs and outstanding culture., after the racist times. I work with many great intelligent, hard working nice, giving people from India, Nigeria, Mexico, south America, the Middle East, etc. There are great people that make huge contributions to society from all nationalities and religions.bThe US could not survive without them. They believe much more in higher education and giving back to community than we do. Birmingham could have been one of the great US cities if not for that closed mindedness. Now it is a forgotten city that is laughed upon in other states. it is a beautiful city. immigrants built most of the beautiful buildings, homes. they worked the steel mills and were scientists and engineers. Native BHM residents will work for the new immigrants because they understand the potential of BHM.

    1. Very much on point Michael! I just fail to understand why the African Immigrants were not embraced like the other Immigrants back in the day since it is their labor that helped to build this city?

  6. Has Birmingham become infected with the resentment toward *domestic* immigration that I note among the natives here in Nashville? I don’t see negative comments on social media about the approximately 60,000 Hispanics (many of whom may be undocumented) who reside in the city, nor the many other international immigrants here including a sizable population of Kurdish Muslims. But the disdain towards the thousands of young people moving here from New York, Chicago, and especially California is palpable. They’re blamed for everything from increased traffic to spiraling housing costs. With Larry Ellison’s announcement yesterday that he plans to make Nashville Oracle’s world headquarters (largely because of the city’s massive healthcare sector), we’ll see even more Californians moving in. Even if they stopped off in Austin for a few years while Oracle was headquartered there, that may simply mean that Texas will be added to the list of out-of-town places responsible for the city’s gentrification woes. Birmingham is known for its hospitality and for the foreign immigrants who helped build the city, even if Alabama as a whole has occasionally suffered from xenophobia. As UAB grows and attracts more of those hated Californians and New Yorkers, I hope the city welcomes them as readily as the highly educated Asian entrepreneurs and other foreign immigrants that David Sher has named.

    1. Nashville has changed in some ways but it is still a very southern city! I do not see Birmingham attracting any big tech firms world headquarters any time soon? Hopefully I am wrong about Jefferson County and the City of Birmingham?

  7. Yes, I am going right around all this immigration, racism, ethnicity as there is much more history to know even to begin to understand it. Even those we call ‘American Indians’ are immigrants.

    Whether what I am asking is done by former or recent immigrants, or from families who have been in Birmingham for generations. (And part of this issue is who came first and what did they contribute) I go to my main point here:

    Why does every great idea created and developed in Birmingham when becoming a successful business get sold and moved to another place? One big one still here that landed in Birmingham merging from outside is Regions Bank. Are there others? How many have sold and left? So what happens to the money received? Is it reinvested in Birmingham? What can we do about that? It is about shrinking or growing, or just being stuck! Comeback, go back or look forward and get better, not necessarily bigger, just better.
    Hope, think, imagine, act and accomplish….PLEASE

    1. Thurs., 4/25/24

      Roy Knight,

      Quote :

      “Even those we call ‘American Indians’ are immigrants.”

      Oh yeah…

      Like…over 15, 000 years ago !

      You think that compares to our meager three centuries of Western immigration and exploitation? Does our 300 year territorial claim confer special (or equal) rights over Native Americans ?

      Manifest Destiny speaking here.

      Right ?

      More to the point : Do you think your perceived “immigration” status of Native Americans should be subservient to European immigrants ?…

      Well by government decree and action, and by dint of many a past treaties, habitually broken by our government, Native Americans are apparently regarded as both subservient and second class…

      So all my questions are…

      Moot.

      1. Who came first of course should county, second third, how many generations and so on. We do know that Russell Cave in Jackson County showed evidence of habitation 10,000 years ago. Far northwest western American they would have had them even earlier, by quite a bit.

        1. Sat., 4/27/24

          Roy Knight, FAIA, Architecture & Urban Design

          Yes this is the way I’ve always (assumed ?) “seniority ” status in terms of who should have viable claims of possession; the irony being that apparently some (if not most) of the old native tribes didn’t cotton to any notion of land ownership.

          The latest arrival figure I’ve seen batting around the blogosphere was 30,000 years !…

          The earliest Americans arrived in the New World 30000 .
          University of Oxford
          https://www.ox.ac.uk › news › 2020-07-22-earliest-ame…
          Jul 22, 2020 — And it reveals that the arrival of humans in numbers coincided with the ‘catastrophic decline’ in now-extinct large animals, including camels, …

          ~ Ballard from Huntsville

      2. Who came first of course should count, second, third, how many generations and so on. We do know that Russell Cave in Jackson County showed evidence of habitation 10,000 years ago. Far northwest western American they would have had them even earlier, by quite a bit.
        When do we move around this and enter the other and perhaps most important point of the article: the value of entrepreneurship for the city? Truly it is remarkable what has been contributed. That should not even be a question. But my question is: why have so many of Birmingham’s businesses been sold and taken elsewhere, only leaving branches behind, if anything?

        1. Roy Knight, FAIA, Architecture & Urban Design…

          PS…I have no answer to why folks (businesses ?) would be leaving Birmingham.

          I have my suspicions. I’ve noticed a lot of angry folks on this blog that are fed up with inept governing and lack of foresight…misplaced priorities, etcetera…

          Since you’re a resident architect, I would think you’re better equipped to answer this question of any flight out of Birmingham.

          J.B.

      3. James, I wish you wouldn’t focus on this Native American immigration question. I don’t think Roy was saying anything sinister there. I suppose if we were really going to speak in scientific terms, we could say that all life forms in Alabama are “immigrants.” The probability is that any lifeform in this state developed somewhere else on the earth. Or at least is descended from one that did.

        I suppose it’s possible that Alabama is the “Garden of Eden,” where the origination of life began on earth. But I haven’t seen evidence of that.

        Roy’s question was basically about why people who start things in the Birmingham area tend to take them elsewhere eventually. The Birmingham area is a really attractive place. Why not stay here? I think it may be partly because regional cooperation isn’t very good. The video below says Birmingham is the “most divided city in the South.” It mentions how prosperous places like Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills are and contrasts that with how depressed some inner city neighborhoods are.

        1. Wed., 5/1/24

          Ted P Gemberling

          It’s a bit sad when I hear folks complaining about why Birmingham’s not getting enough protracted attention…I’ve seen several angry residential commentaries about how bad the policing is, how disorganized city government is, and how well intentioned priorities get lost in the fray.

          It seems obvious (though apparently invisible to some residents, who prefer being in denial) that the function of past influences, the well reported past racism…Gee, who am I to question ?…I’m not from Birmingham.

          Only a few see the elephant in the room.

          The elephant’s name is Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor. Some may insist he’s dead; I’m not so sure. My bet is he’s still alive and breathing in the memory of many senior citizens.

          Yeah. When I hear about Montgomery legislation passing a bill to criminalize librarians who carry “salacious materials” on their shelves, without considering precisely what is meant by “salacious”…or “obscene”…or “pornographic…”

          “Don’t worry ’bout that folks…Just do the arrests and we’ll figure all that out later”…

          Yeah. Bull-Connor-mindset : Still living and breathing.

          Farenheit 451…Here we come.

          Not happy thoughts. If I were a Birmingham resident.

          And Stephen Hawking (RIP), before he died, assured us that we can’t go back in time. We can’t go back in time with clear intent to change the past. So that’s off the table.

          Many cities throughout history have changed their name. Now there’s a thought. It could work, you know. Of all cities one could name, Birmingham would be a prime candidate for name-change in this beleaguered state of Alabama…Perhaps “Pell City, Part 2″…Hey, just saying here…

          Well. It might work.

          It’s a start.

          It could work, you know…

          Just saying…

          OK.

          Discussion over.

          ~ Ballard from Huntsville

          1. Birmingham’s will be ok in due time!
            I too sing America warts and all!!!

          2. Thurs., 5/2/24

            George Munchus

            OK, huh ?…Yeah…And how much “due time” will you give it to be just “OK”…You have the patience of Job, George !

            ~ Sir James
            Bard of Huntsville
            …One Bard to Another

          3. To James The Bard of Huntsville:
            Great question about my patience!
            It starts with 1619 but GOD is deciding the fate of Birmingham and Jefferson County each day!

          4. The ByeBull reference is my mistake…Leave “God” out of it.

            Our future is all up to us. Can’t blame some ancient fairy-tale for failings that belong to us an us alone !…

            ~Bard Ballard…

          5. James the BARD:
            I wish I could leave GOD out of the conversation but thanks to GOD for allowing me to have a conversation with you ladies and gentleman!

          6. George…

            As you insist…I’ll leave it alone…You’re lucky today…You keep pushing my buttons…All yer fault !

            …But’s it’s really you George…Nobody else in the room !

            ~ Bard Ballard from Huntsville

        2. Thank you Ted. You did understand me while others have not.

          1. Thurs., 5/2/24

            Roy Knight, FAIA, Architecture & Urban Design

            Cut the passive-aggressive bull Mr. Roy !

            Why don’t you challenge us with some particle physics ?

            Only then can you make your passive-aggressive claim about “others” whom, you say, don’t “understand”…

            This obviously desperate plea for “Come Back Birmingham” ain’t no abstruse quantum physics class.

            ~ Ballard from Huntsville

          2. James the BARD:
            Birmingham has a lot of very bad history.
            No city can out live its fact based history!!
            Those who come here like me know exactly what we are going to face! No ways tired of this earthly struggle for justice and peace broadly defined!!

          3. James, I don’t understand your hostility to Roy. I suppose he did make a mistake by saying Native Americans are immigrants. I made it worse by carrying that discussion further. But I don’t think there was ever a need to have a lengthy discussion of immigration. We all know that people from India and China are immigrants. That immigrants at UAB are making good contributions to Birmingham’s economy. That was David’s point.

          4. Thurs., 5/2/24

            Ted P Gemberling,

            …Actually there was more than one point he was making, and yes, I do get angry when I hear anyone making flippant, careless remarks about Native Americans.

            Not just because of my own ancestry.

            My bet is you know as well as I that we, as a fragmented, failing nation, are all saturated through the media, and “social media”, (an oxymoron, of course), with multiple and unending tidbits/soundbites and seriously misleading and misdirected “reports” from silly…uh…”reporters”…”reporters” who are not journalists…It all really amounts to propaganda : Endless yapping, yapping endlessly. …”Minority” discrimination, about “my” minority, his/her minority…any “minority” who happened to be the flavor of the day.

            How much pity (and shame) do we display about the …uh…”displaced” Native American ?…The severely impoverished Native American “reservations” ?…How much airtime do we give them ?…Huh ?…I’ll tell you. For all intent and purpose : NADA !

            …And right now Ted, on this very day, students all over this mentally ill, very sick country of ours are being arrested for speaking their minds about the chronic abuse heaped upon Israel’s immediate Arabic neighbors…BY Israel…Women and children being massacred…”Collateral damage” our own ignorant military calls it…Orwell’s “Newspeak” here we come !

            And it’s all in the name of a stupid, Holier-Than-Thou-Pay-Back war…Yes…abuse has indeed been, and is being, reaped by both sides of this insane Middle East Holy war…And what does our stupid government do ?… It enables one side by giving both money and arms, and (usually) ignores the obvious abuses of the Israeli government, the recipient of our misguided “benevolence”.

            And what do you hear in the “idiot-wind” media about the students. ?…You hear repeated, over and over, the stupid canard about “hate speech” we now seem to be so fond of…The stupid/witless canard that “we” have now corrupted into a “law”…how lame does it get Ted ?…

            Well, I say here and now that those students’ concerns are legitimate…They’re not “hate mongers”…The U.S has no business dumping our tax dollars…our tax dollars I said… feeding money into a bottomless Middle-East-Tar-Pit : Giving a blank check to the DOD…

            …So why do I go on about this ?

            When you compare our little Alabama micro-world hill of beans to what is really going on within our entire country, in the world, for that matter, I do sometimes get disgusted and sick hearing Birmingham bellyache about its problems.

            I really don’t belong on this blog, except for the fact that we are all in Alabama, an historically crippled state, plodding along, trying desperately to keep up with the rest of country, and the rest of the world.

            It’s a sad tale.

            But when Birmingham wants to…uh…”Come Back”…it really needs to keep its perspective on what it wants to “Come Back” to…

            Birmingham needs to realize that it’s living in a state whose government is seriously trying to keep all of us, not just Birmingham, in a new Dark Age of Ignorance and Superstition…If you or anyone else here doesn’t think that’s what’s happening…right now…at this very moment…then they are not just blind-sided…They are in denial.

            This is not a Time…This is not an Age…to consider whose shoes we are stepping on, or whose feelings we are hurting.

            We are all hurting !

            Earth to Birmingham:

            “Come Back” down to Earth…See what’s happening all around you. Not just Birmingham !…

            Get real !

            ~ Ballard from Huntsville

          5. Immigrants are not going to stop coming to Alabama anytime soon inspite of Senate Bill 129!!!

  8. As far as the “indigenous” reference, I will add that, even though society may take a look at me and refer to me as “African American”, my people were on this landmass for untold centuries. Muskokee [Creek] on my mother’s side and Chata [Choctaw] from my father’s side. My grandfather was full-blooded Muskokee, but appeared as a typical dark-skinned “black” person. Appearances only tell half the story. Not all “Indians” appear like the actors in Hollywood films (many of whom were Caucasian).

    Anyway, many indigenous people had to change their status and adopt Christian names for numerous reasons – the courts or the government [census] re-classified many of them as “Negroes”. This happened to the bulk of the blacks that did not move to Oklahoma in the Trail of Tears. Many left behind were kidnapped into slavery and dispersed to other parts of the country – many actually being shipped to Africa! There is a LOT in history that has to be unpacked, much of it is mythology.

    1. Well JS you had to learn to live as a Negro ?
      Lots of folks like you in Oklahoma and Texas and Louisiana living as a Negro?
      How has that been my friend ?
      Thanks for sharing your family racial history !
      This what makes America the Beautiful!!!

  9. We cannot continue to rely on immigration for brain power. We need to educate our own population. This means (1) adopting a more rigorous school curriculum, (2) banning employment of teens during the school year, (3) a longer school year and (4) standing against Rush Propst.

    1. Excellent suggestion! What is the issue with Rush Propst now? He seems to be a very good High School football coach?

      1. George Munchus,

        Hey George…Better read yer Wiki…This Propst guy seems like a real hot potato when it comes to simple ethics.

        You ain’t gonna argyee with Wiki now, huh ?

        ~ Ballard from huntsville

        1. Ha ha ha
          I guess I need to expand my reading!
          So Propst has some ethics issues as a Football Coach?? A real oxymoron ??
          A football coach with some ethics issues!

          1. Fri., 4/26/24

            George Munchus

            LOL !

            Yeah…We once had a coach as “substitute history instructor”…HAH !

            A little background first…My family was educated the real way when we all lived overseas…We learned Greek & Roman culture first hand…

            Flash forward to Lee High Skool (well. they did have the temerity to call it a “school” !)…we had this coach…

            He’d go home overnight and reeed our textbook, which really wasn’t all that bad…But the next day he’d come in all “prepared” to “teach” us Western history…

            Yeah.

            So he gitz off his seat and steps up to the green chalk board…and writes :

            “A.P.H.R.O.D.I.TE”

            While pronouncing it :

            “Afrooo…’dit”

            I was really trying to hold back…Really.

            Then he writes out :

            “A.R.C.R.O.P.O.L.I.S”

            And pronounced it :

            ” ‘arrrr…krow…pole…esss”

            I swear.

            They had to pick me up off the floor from laughing so hard.

            ~ J.B.

    2. Fri., 4/26/24

      Pat Dewees

      Quote : “…(2) banning employment of teens during the school year, (3) a longer school year…”

      I beg to differ a bit here.

      It wouldn’t be fair to students to ban them from at least part-time work at anytime during the year…I have few doubts that there are many high school students who have to work some to help support their family, especially those whose mothers (or fathers) who are single and struggling to keep their families healthy, intact and alive.

      At the very least, all options should be open to teens.

      And this business about a “longer school year”…

      News flash : At least here in this country, the unspoken need for secondary schools does not solely lie in the obvious need for education :

      Secondary skools here in America serve as baby sitters, and are, ersatz, society shills for promoting/instilling/brainwashing “community values” and “socialization” preparation…And that, of course, is the fault of both bad teachers and false parental expectations : IOW, parents who never should have had kids from the beginning.

      After centuries of this nonsense, we need to begin focusing on both the quality of the teachers, and the quality of education…If we had both, there would be no need to lengthen the semesters; indeed, we could actually shorten the school year.

      Most important of all, we need to help student novices focus on a strong science curriculum, and teach them how to write and speak their minds, without shame. Every semester should have a mandated course on good writing skills.

      Along with writing, at least one mandated course course on critical thinking. That goes hand-in-hand with good writing skills. In case you haven’t noticed, critical thinking is in crisis mode here in the U.S., and has been for a very long time.

      If you want a future of enlightened students, you have to teach young students accordingly.

      And I’m not quite sure about what you mean by…uh…”rigorous school curriculum”…That’s a subjective judgment that leaves the door wide open for zealotry and abuse, in all its forms.

      It is very obvious to me that secondary schools have failed here in America, and have been failing, for at least the past four decades.

      The answer to that failing is not…

      More failing.

      ~ Ballard from Huntsville.

  10. Any immigration policy or stance adopted by the City of Birmingham should take into consideration Birmingham’s rich history of immigration, especially in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.

    1. What about the former enslaved Africans whose exploitated labor helped to build this city and county. I have discovered we native born Americans seem to ignore the contribution of immigrants of all races until the s—- hits the fan?
      Why is that? Glad David Sher wrote this thought provoking article.

      1. That group should even be thought of as the ‘cornerstone.’ for their essential contribution given the treatment they received!

        1. Roy
          Absolutely and thanks for the kind words regarding the enslaved Africans that are often overlooked regarding their contribution to this community!

  11. David:

    I appreciate that you NEVER give up on this area. As you know, immigrants helped fuel the growth of the mines and mills that created the “Magic City.” Within a couple of generations they were pretty well assimilated into the culture.

    The cohort of geniuses you write about can fuel a rebirth, but this time they’ll be pulling, not pushing, us along. I know Shegun and Sanjay—and barriers mean nothing to them!

    Thanks again. You’re the most optimistic person I know!

  12. When Birmingham was growing the fastest, during its “Magic City” years, the city had huge numbers of immigrants.

    In 1920, Birmingham was described as the most ethnically diverse city in the South.

  13. Yes to all! Those many emigrants who came with positive determination to accomplish great things were the ‘magic.’ We could use more.

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