In his “Welcome to College” lecture, attorney and founder of Impact Alabama Stephen Black implored students to take full
advantage of their time at Birmingham-Southern by getting involved on campus and in the community. For many years,
Birmingham-Southern students have volunteered with Impact Alabama’s programs SaveFirst, FocusFirst, and SpeakFirst. Impact
Alabama has expanded its programming to several states and is also known as Impact America.
On November 5 during common hour, Civil rights attorney Fred Gray inspired his audience with his own behind-the-scenes story
of the Civil Rights Movement, urging students to get involved and work to address problems they see. A former Alabama State
Bar President and one of the first African Americans to serve in the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction, Mr. Gray achieved
national distinction for his representation of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Montgomery Bus Boycott and later
his representation of the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Fred Gray is a person of great courage and commitment whose
legal career in civil rights in Alabama spans six decades.
On February 16th, Joan Witherspoon-Norris of the YWCA Central Alabama explained payday lending and title loans in Alabama.
As she stated, Alabama laws allow payday lenders to legally charge 456% APR and title pawn lenders to charge 300% for loans.
These exorbitant rates leave many in our state in a vicious cycle of debt from which they cannot escape. Ms. Witherspoon-Norris
encouraged students to get involved with payday lending reform and speak to their representatives about this issue. After the talk,
students were encouraged to take pictures with the “pit of despair” and post them to social media to raise awareness.