If there was a civil rights demonstration in downtown Birmingham, you could bet that Willie Mae Buford was going to be there. That meant that her young son, Ron Buford, was also there because she made sure she brought him along.
They vividly remember the water cannons, police dogs and racial slurs hurled by former Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor and others as they gathered at Kelly Ingram Park for a peaceful demonstration against segregation. Many of the protesters were schoolchildren, including Ron Buford.
As a child, Buford imagined two things: Seeing the inside of the Alabama Theatre and having a job in one of those big buildings downtown.
As a young adult, he got to experience the former.
Today, Buford is director of legislative affairs and compliance at Alabama Power Company.
He can see Kelly Ingram Park from his office. He can also see progress everywhere and changed hearts in the people of the Magic City.
Here is his story.
During Black History Month, Alabama NewsCenter is celebrating the culture and contributions of those who have shaped our state and those working to elevate Alabama today. Visit AlabamaNewsCenter.com throughout the month for stories of Alabamians past and present.