Bernard Mays ’05
was born in 1982 and have lived in the Birmingham
area all of my life. For those growing up in
Birmingham, nearly every corner of the city serves as a
reminder of the civil rights movement. My perspective
on the civil rights movement is not only shaped by
walking through the footsteps of history, but also on the
intimate stores of sacrifice and success told by my parents
and grandparents, who lived through and participated in
the movement. Reflecting on their actions and the actions
of an entire generation inspires a sense of both gratefulness
I’m grateful because I know that I am the beneficiary of
victories earned by previous generations. The movement
was about equal access to opportunity and equal treatment.
The movement continues, but initial victories succeeded in
providing people with greater opportunity. My generation’s
ability to enjoy so many of the ordinary and extraordinary
things in life exists because brave people across this country
decided the promise of equality was worth great sacrifice.
Any success I have is based on the fact that I stand on the
shoulders of folks who were willing to make that sacrifice.
The legacy of the civil rights movement compels all of
us to acknowledge the fact that inequality and injustice
still exists in our community
and our world. The civil rights
movement of today is not
limited to the pursuit of racial
equality; it is the pursuit of
equality for people of various
racial, ethnic, national origin
and gender backgrounds.
Cultural norms and other
barriers still limit equal
opportunity in our workplace,
educational institutions, and
global political and economic
structures. To honor the
struggles and achievements of previous generations, my
generation should be poised to assume the responsibility of
confronting inequality wherever it exists.
I look at the past 50 years saddened by some events, but
inspired by mankind’s ability to overcome the worst in our
*Mays is an assistant controller for Books-a-Million in
winter-spring 2013 / 37
Sophomore English major
Hometown: McCalla, Ala.
“Our culture is more accepting today no matter
what racial or religious differences we have.
But sometimes our voluntary and involuntary
associations are still largely separated by race. For
some, this creates a fear of environments outside
of their comfort zone. Communities like BSC
that celebrate and embrace diversity help
foster healthy relations among people
of diverse backgrounds. The impact
of a school like BSC won’t stop here.
Instead it will spread throughout the
country and the world, creating more
positivity towards diversity all over.”