Centennial Anniversary

RCB President Whit DeBardeleben & RI President Sakuji Tanaka

The Rotary Club of Birmingham and its members are proud to reach 100 years as a Rotary Club. Several avenues of commemoration were reviewed and three were chosen. The celebration was in honor of those members who came before and acknowledge the role the Rotary Club of Birmingham has played a part in this city’s history. Rotary International President Sakuji Tanka attend the 100th anniversary lunch meeting on February 6, 2013, and joined us in celebrating with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.  Club members wanted to leave a lasting gift to the city and its residents that will be used for many different activities and will connect the community. The club wanted to take part in the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights struggle and was able to collaborate with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in creating a symposium with international speakers for the youth in Birmingham. As the club looks towards the next 100 years, we hope they will be as wonderful and memorable as the previous 100 years.


The Rotary Club of Birmingham’s Centennial Year kicked off on February 8, 2013. The club was honored to have Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka attend the 100th anniversary meeting. He was able to attend a concert of Bach’s 9th, preformed by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra at the Alys Stephens Center, where over 800 Rotarians and family members came together for the sold out concert. Afterwards over 400 Rotarians and spouses attended dinners throughout the city at the finest restaurants, Highlands, Bottega, Hot & Hot and The View at The Club.


The Rotary Trail will transform the abandoned, submerged railroad bed located on the four blocks of Birmingham’s 1st Avenue South into a walking/bike trail with great green space for individual and community activities. Through the rail line and the physical grade separation below the surrounding street network are unique and inherently interesting, the sunken track separating the east- and west- bound lanes of 1st Avenue.

Once completed, Rotary Trail will add interest and beauty, supporting existing and encourage future redevelopment plans, and help link the existing Railroad Park and Birmingham’s new baseball stadium to Sloss Furnace and the Lakeview area. It will be part of the Red Rock Ridge Trail, and will contribute to the city’s continued revitalization. In addition, it will encourage outdoor activities, such as walking, biking and a variety of community activities and events. The club is also excited about the branding opportunity for Rotary which encourages high ethical standards in personal and professional activities.


symposium into page


The Rotary Club of Birmingham was honored to participate and help coordinate the Youth Activism Symposium. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute created a symposium of speakers from around the world to come talk to Birmingham City School students. The symposium brought to Birmingham some amazing speakers like Eric Motley and Jose Antonio Vargas. Real time, real world experiences of personal sacrifice in global human rights struggles were told by featured speakers like Emmanuel Jal. International journalists like Rami Khoury and Charlayne Hunter-Gault traveled here to speak about the “pass it forward” effect  the Birmingham movement had on the rest of the world. Samford chair and political science professor Tom Shepherd moderated a panel that mapped out ways for young people to become involved in cause-based activities. FOX6 co-anchor Steve Crocker and Birmingham News journalist Barnett Wright moderated panels of six foot soldiers of the 1963 events and discussions on lessons learned. Attendance at the Thursday event was the highest with approx 1,200 in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

All other events were held in the Westin and the Sheraton with the only ticketed event selling out early. At the Westin, some of the events were SRO. This was a productive and meaningful event for Birmingham. A huge thank you to Danny Markstein who worked from beginning to end with the team at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and a big thank you to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, Rotaract Club of Birmingham, the City of Birmingham, and others who were co-sponsors of the event along with the Rotary Club of Birmingham.