Andrea Taylor’s path to Birmingham may not have been obvious. But her passion for and connection to civil rights? That’s another story.
Taylor, the CEO and president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, marked her one-year anniversary in the city in September. Prior to taking the museum’s helm, the West Virginia native worked in a variety of roles at Microsoft, the Ford Foundation and taught at Harvard. She’s lived all over the United States. And Taylor’s always been cognizant of the importance of civil rights.
She attended the 1963 March on Washington as a high-school student, and followed the work of Howard Thurman as a student at Boston University. Thurman was one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s mentors, and his writings have inspired Taylor.
Taylor explained the role of BCRI: “Much of what’s happening in our country is not happening in a vacuum. There’s a long, historical pattern of behavior and activity and interaction–or lack of interaction–in communities, really hearkening all the way back to slavery. The more the communities and individuals can know about that history and understand their role, or not, in it, I think it makes it easier for us to come forward as a community and move forward in a positive and constructive way.”
Taylor is this week’s guest on Triple Take, the podcast about the films, books and music that shape us.
Andrea Taylor on “Eyes on the Prize: No Easy Walk”
“Empathy is an issue and an area we struggle with in our society, particularly in a media environment, there’s so many images so many stories and so many crises that we’re all bombarded with on a daily basis that it’s easy to tune out. Not deliberately, but there’s only so much absorptive capacity that a human being has for tragedy and tension and difficulty. And so you’ll often find that the best stories are in a war situation or a conflict or any kind of environment, the best way to communicate is to pick one story, one individual, one family. Tell that story because you can absorb that. You can empathize and imagine how you might feel if you were in a similar circumstance. I think that’s the power of a documentary series like ‘Eyes on the Prize.'”
Andrea Taylor on “For the Inward Journey” by Howard Thurman
“We are a nation of such tremendous diversity, and yet we don’t always reflect that in our policies, in our practices, in the way we treat each other, the way we interact with each other and come together. We still need to focus on that and promote that as a positive construct and not as something that divides us and compartmentalizes us.”
Andrea Taylor on “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel
“(Music) forms a very positive and powerful human connection with people to talk about their experience, to reflect on their experience and give a lift. Just think what the world would be like without music.”
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