Birmingham is full of women who have influenced communities both locally and nationally. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve highlighted five (although there are plenty more!) impactful women. Keep reading to learn about these inspiring women.
1. Condoleezza Rice
Birmingham native, Condoleezza Rice became the first woman, first Black and youngest Provost at Stanford In 1993. Within two years, she turned Stanford’s $20M deficit into a $14M surplus. In 2004, President George W. Bush selected Condoleezza to become Secretary of State where she became the first Black woman to serve as Secretary of State.
2. Madam Louise Wooster
During Birmingham’s early days, the city was almost wiped out by a cholera epidemic in 1873. The outbreak threatened the future of The Magic City, with nearly half of the city’s 4,000 residents fleeing. Louise Wooster was determined to stay during the outbreak to care for the sick.
In order to honor her contributions to Birmingham, UAB presents the Lou Wooster Public Health Hero Award every year to recognize unconventional public health heroes.
3. Vonetta Flowers
Vonetta Flowers is an American bobsledder and the first Black woman to win a gold medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Flowers began her athletic career as a star sprinter and long jumper at The University of Alabama at Birmingham where she aspired to make the US Summer Olympic Team. After several failed attempts, Vonetta found almost immediate and unexpected success in bobsledding.
At the 2002 Winter Olympics, the powerhouse brake woman, along with driver Jill Bakken, won the gold medal in the two-woman event.
4. Nina Miglionico
Born in Birmingham to Italian immigrants, Nina Miglionico graduated from Howard College (now Samford University) and earned her law degree from The University of Alabama. Being a strong supporter of women and civil rights in the ’60s she earned many enemies in Birmingham. In 1965, a bomb was found in her home. However, that did not stop her from pursuing what she knew to be right. She later achieved many goals such as:
- The first woman in Birmingham to open her own law practice.
- The first woman elected to the Birmingham City Council, where she remained active for 22 years.
5. Jane Stephens Comer
Comer is well-known for her devotion and significant contributions to the Birmingham community, particularly in the areas of art, education and the empowerment of women and girls.
In 2009, Comer accepted a challenge from Gloria Steinem to “commit one outrageous act in the cause of simple justice” that sparked the founding of GirlSpring Inc., a nonprofit focused on the empowerment of girls and young women.
Comer was the first woman in Alabama to gift $1M to the national Women Moving Millions campaign, which benefits women and girls. The gift benefitted:
Other achievements of Jane Stephens Comer include:
- Alabama Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year
- Alys Robinson Stephens Award
- Gloria Awards
- Life Member Award from The University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Ms. Foundation Vision and Action Award (New York)
For more impactful women from Alabama, check out this article.
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