Birmingham Civil Rights Institute gets hurried funding - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute gets hurried funding

By Ashley Nix

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A scare at Birmingham City Council Tuesday after Mayor William Bell shocked the council when he told them the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was about to close their doors.

Bell said he was told the city-owned non-profit would close if the BCRI did not get $240,000. Councilors then asked BCRI President and CEO Dr. Lawrence Pijeaux to confirm Bell's statement.

"Is the civil rights institute about to close?" Roderick Royal asked Pijeaux.

"No, it isn't, but we're at a point where we really need the money," PIjeaux said.  "We need the funds.  We are not going to close but we do need the money."  

Bell quickly asked, "Mr. Pijeaux, what did you tell me if you didn't get those funds?"   

"Mayor," Pijeaux responded, "We talked about the possibility of closing down the road if we didn't get the money from the city over an extended period of time."

In the past fiscal year, the city cut funding for the BCRI by more than 60%.  That, Pijeaux said, equaled more than $600,000 not coming to the institute.  

Councilor Kim Rafferty asked Tuesday why money was going to the BCRI and no other non-profit.  

"Kid One got zero, Literacy Council got zero, Kids House Ministry got zero," Rafferty said.  "What we do for one we must do for all. That's all I have to say."

In the end, the council voted to allocate $240,000 to the BCRI.  Rafferty was the only no vote.

Pijeaux said he will be back to ask for more money to keep the institute alive.  

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