One-on-One: Lawrence Pijeaux Jr. and Joseph Caspar Baker III


The focus of this month’s conversation was the power of ordinary and extraordinary people to bring about positive change. We brought together two people for this month’s One on One who have experienced that phenomenon: Dr. Lawrence Pijeaux Jr., president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and Joseph Caspar Baker III, founder of the advocacy group, I Believe in Birmingham.

Baker founded I Believe in Birmingham back in 2010 to provide a forum and framework to acknowledge and encourage positive developments in the city. Through social media, citizens meetings and other kinds of advocacy work, the organization has sought to influence issues such as the renovation of the Rainbow Viaduct, the Walgreen’s development on Clairmont Avenue and the Trinity Medical Center relocation.

“I Believe in Birmingham seeks to be involved in many issues affecting the character and prosperity of the city of Birmingham, its citizens, it neighborhoods and its commercial districts,” Baker says. “We believe the time has come for the citizens of Birmingham to come together in an effort to preserve the positive elements of our city while searching for new ideas to stimulate further growth. Over the decades, we have all too often see how, when left to their own devices, developers, city officials and businesses have made poor decisions whose negative effects ripple outward — stalling growth, destroying neighborhood character or limiting future potential.”

Dr. Pijeaux has seen positive change first-hand and, as president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, has helped to curate its history to inspire generations to come. Graduating from high school in 1962 in a segregated New Orleans, Dr. Pijeaux saw education as his way up and out. A successful educator and principal in the New Orleans public school system, he has earned degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi (PhD), Tulane University (M.A.), Southern University (B.S.), as well as post-graduate work at the Getty Leadership Institute for Museum Management, University of California, Berkeley.

Under his leadership, BCRI achieved full accreditation from the American Association of Museums in July 2005. The Institute has received two major national awards, presented at the White House by First Lady Laura Bush, for community service — the Coming Up Taller Award in 2007 and the inaugural National Medal for Museum Service in 2008. In April 2007, the Institute was named an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. In 2006, Pijeaux was named Alabama Tourism Executive of the Year. Pijeaux is a past president of the Association of African American Museums.

Using the Layar app, watch this spirited conversation on your smart phone or access it as b-metro.com.

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