30 Women You Should Know

Over the next 30 days, The Birmingham Buff will feature 30 remarkable women who have made their mark on Birmingham’s history.

A Woman You Should Know #2

Bessie Sears Estell was the daughter of a baptist preacher who brought his family from Green County, Al. to Birmingham around 1918. Milton Sears had been called to pastor Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville, a working-class community north of downtown Birmingham.

estellEstell once called her father a pioneer in promoting civil rights in the city, but she was a pioneer in her right, having been the first black woman elected to the city council in 1975.

Estell also worked in what she called “the greatest profession in the world” – teaching.  By the time she retired in the mid-70s, Estell was a principal, but she still cherished her work on the front lines. “Well, the greatest joy in my life is to have [students] come back to me, and say, ‘I remember when you tried to instill this [lesson]; [you don’t know] how much I appreciate it.’ That’s a reward you can’t measure in dollars.”

Listen to Estell describe her life in her own words. 

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