Rep. Patricia Todd Receives Wooster Award

Actually, she received it a while back, but I missed it.  Patricia has worked on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS for over twenty years and is currently the Associate Director of AIDS Alabama. The Wooster Award is named for Louise Wooster, who ran a brothel in the nascent city of Birmingham in the 1870′s and stayed behind during the 1873 cholera outbreak, after half the population had fled, to nurse the sick and dying.

Today then, Wooster’s legacy lies in doing what it takes with what you’ve got, even if the first is terrifying and the second is not much to speak of at all. It’s also a matter of seeking help and looking for answers wherever you can find them, even if it’s from outsiders. Often, it’s reaching out especially to outsiders, and not for their benefit alone. On the whole, it sounds a lot like the practice of public health.

And it sounds a lot like Patricia Todd, who has worked tirelessly for years on behalf of a marginalized population, speaking up when she didn’t have to, and putting her own life on the line to help others.

Congratulations, Patricia.

BTW, check out the website for UAB’s School of Public Health.  It’s not the biggest program there, but it’s vital to all of us.  (H/T Terry).

11 Responses to “Rep. Patricia Todd Receives Wooster Award”

  1. mooncat says:

    Thanks for the link to the story about Louise Wooster. Very neat. Also great that Patricia Todd got the award.

  2. Del says:

    I second the thanks for the neatness. Although maybe I’m being a little sensitive, but what exactly are they saying with this award? “Although maligned by society, you have contributed much”?

  3. Kathy says:

    I think the idea is to recognize someone who works to help the maligned, but it is hard to tell from the column.

  4. Del says:

    Well yes, but…this is kind of like getting the “Madam With a Heart of Gold” award. Not that I wish to impugn sex workers. Except for that woman in NO who weighed in about what a fine family man Vitter was. I wish to impugn her.

  5. Steve Rudd says:

    Okay, I confess I used a good deal of literary license (i.e., made up the details as I went along) in describing Lou’s quasi-mythic funeral procession in my piece in the B’ham News; still, I got the sense the lady was smiling benignly down on the copy, over a celestial bourbon-and-branch. Metaphorically, that is.

  6. Kathy says:

    That’s a lovely image, Steve. Thanks for sharing her story with us, even if it wasn’t all technically true.

  7. Tricia says:

    Actually, there are at least a couple of pictures of Louise’s funeral (or at least what is believed to be her funeral) in the archives of the Downtown Birmingham Library — sounds like you got it mostly right to me.

    I saw some of them back in my days at Birmingham Magazine, when we were working on a city anniversary piece.

  8. Kathy says:

    Tricia, I’d love to see those pics. Don’t guess they’re online anywhere. I’ll have to stop by the library next time I’m downtown.

  9. Tricia says:

    I didn’t find any online, but these are some cool links to the archives…

    http://www.bplonline.org/Archives/
    http://www.bplonline.org/resources/Digital_Project/default.asp

  10. Kathy says:

    Thanks, Tricia. That’s a great resource.

  11. john massey says:

    Actually, if my book is ever completed and then picked up by a publisher then more about Louise Wooster will be explained, something the historians in Alabama just don’t want to touch, perhaps because the issue is too hot. I’ve just applied for a fellowship to get the funding (couldn’t get one soul in Birmingham interested in funding this project) to complete the book. More research needs to be done.
    I think the BPL’s republication of Louise’s book was a bit premature. Historian James Baggett really didn’t do all the homework that needed to be done. It will be interesting what the next year Wooster award will bring – perhaps a symposium would be in order?

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