Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Launches When Resilience Speaks: A Community Response to COVID-19

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has launched an online community participation project for people across all generations to share their views and experiences during the COVID-19 crisis. Called “When Resilience Speaks: A Community Response to COVID-19,” youth and adults can share their stories by virtually any medium including videos, social posts, telephone, email and through the BCRI website.
This participatory project seeks to attract people of all ages, races, and backgrounds to share their perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly how it is transforming their everyday lives and how it compares with other historic events during the past 100 years. Stories collected through When Resilience Speaks will be shared with the community in real-time and could form the nucleus of an exhibition to be curated and exhibited in the BCRI at a future date.
The first question to the public is “How is the COVID-19 pandemic changing our community?” People can give their answers by:
BCRI President and CEO Andrea L. Taylor said the Institute has a great tradition of collecting oral histories about the experiences of activists and eyewitnesses to history here, as in exhibits such as “Foot Soldiers” and “Voices of Alabama,” which document history through the voices of the people who lived it.
“We believe this moment of social and economic upheaval is exactly the right time to gauge where we are as a society. We want the perspectives of people who have already lived through other crises, and the voices of young people who have such valuable input and new ideas about next steps,” she said. “The physical doors of our Institute may be closed right now, but we’re throwing open the doors to community dialog that technology affords us. It’s a key part of our mission to engage the public in meaningful dialog, and future generations will have the benefit of our having it documented as well.”
Taylor said “When Resilience Speaks” gets its name from the resilience shown by leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and other human rights struggles, and that similar resilience will be needed by the present generation to cope with crises like COVID-19. She also added that the BCRI consulted with a clinical psychologist on the efficacy of the project and to help frame social questions posed by the effort. Plans are also in development for the BCRI’s Legacy Youth Leadership Program to interview Civil Rights Foot Soldiers about their perspectives on this and other issues as well, she said.
About the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI). An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, the BCRI is a cultural and educational research center that promotes a comprehensive understanding of the significance of civil rights developments in Birmingham that changed our world. Celebrating its 27th anniversary, BCRI reaches more than 150,000 individuals each year through teacher education (including curriculum development and teacher training), group tours, outreach programs (school and community), award-winning after-school and public programs, exhibitions, and extensive archival collections. For more information, visit