In November 1997, inspired by the historic events in Birmingham during the civil rights movement, Birmingham attorney James E. Rotch composed a statement - - a personal commitment, to recognize the importance of every individual, regardless of race or color. This commitment became The Birmingham Pledge, a grassroots movement initiated and promoted by the Community Affairs Committee of Operation New Birmingham to eliminate prejudice in Birmingham and throughout the world . In the last five years, The Birmingham Pledge has worldwide recognition with tens of thousands of people signing this personal commitment. In January 2000 a Joint Resolution of Congress was passed recognizing The Birmingham Pledge and in 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed September 14 through 21 as National Birmingham Pledge Week, encouraging all citizens to join him by renewing their commitments to fight racism and uphold equal justice and opportunity.
Since its inception in 1998, the Birmingham Pledge has been signed more than one-hundred thousand individuals on every continent of the globe who responded to this opportunity to declare a simple and personal commitment to honor the Pledge's goal to eliminate racism in the world one person at a time.
“The Birmingham Pledge is important because it shows the world that a genuine effort toward racial reconciliation and acceptance of diversity is possible even in a city with the history of Birmingham.”
Louis Willie III
The expansion and increased utilization of information technology and Internet tools will raise awareness and enhance the Pledge's capability to access signers on a highly scalable basis, especially relating to communication with especially teachers, students and parents.
The future goal of the Birmingham Pledge is to expand the diversity of the signers and sustain a groundswell of systemic change …. “one-individual-at-a-time.” The following excerpt regarding a school program in Fayetteville, North Carolina is evidence of the Pledge's current and future impact.
“Students, staff and faculty each took a moment to sign it. This marked the time when everyone at Westover High School united and became one. With over a thousand signatures it shows that our school is not going to let racism occur. Next year, we plan to get everyone in the community involved.”