Woodlawn, situated just east of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, is a historic neighborhood that runs for 15 blocks along the rail line that once brought tens of thousands of workers to this post-Civil War boom town. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the area grew into a community where working class families moved to find jobs, raise healthy children and educate them in good schools. But as Birmingham’s industrial prominence faded and integration was achieved, much of its middle class moved to the growing suburbs as the community succumbed to the social turmoil of the 1960’s and economic turmoil of the 1970’s.
In addition, the junction created by the construction of Interstates 20 and 59 further disrupted the fabric of the Woodlawn neighborhood and over the years it succumbed to the familiar patterns of urban neglect. Houses stood vacant. Businesses moved or otherwise closed. But in spite of the many obstacles facing the residents, including poverty, high crime and low graduation rates, many families remained in Woodlawn due to their fierce pride and love for their community. They simply needed someone to share that sentiment and want a better outcome.
Flash forward to 2010 and the creation of Woodlawn Foundation to serve as the “Community Quarterback” for Woodlawn United.