AL.com article by Mike Cason
Updated: Jan. 22, 2022, 7:43 a.m. | Published: Jan. 22, 2022, 7:17 a.m.
Yolanda Flowers of Birmingham is running for the Democratic nomination for governor of Alabama. (Photo contributed by the candidate)
By Mike Cason | firstname.lastname@example.org
Retired rehabilitation specialist Yolanda Flowers of Birmingham is running for governor with a message of “reconstructing Alabama together,” a task she intends to tackle from biblical point of view.
Flowers, 60, said it’s past time for Alabamians to set aside racial and political differences and confront the common enemy she sees as the source of the injustice and persistent problems that drew her into the race.
“I know that this Earth was created for man,” Flowers said. “We’re supposed to rule and to dominate the animals and the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. But not one another. We are supposed to live here in harmony. And that’s not what has been done.
“The enemy himself is Satan, who hates God. And because God created us, he hates us.”
Flowers said she knows many will dismiss that message.
“Some people say, ‘Well, you’re just a holy roller,’” Flowers said. “Be that as it may, I see it as what it is.”
Flowers has qualified with the Democratic Party to run in the May 24 primary. Others Democratic qualifiers are businessman Chad “Chig” Martin of Enterprise and Patricia Jamieson Salter.
On the Republican side, Gov. Kay Ivey is seeking a second full term. Six candidates have qualified to challenge Ivey for the nomination. They are former Trump administration ambassador Lindy Blanchard; Lew Burdette, president of King’s Home, a program for abused women and children; correctional officer and former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy Lee George; toll bridge developer Tim James; Opelika pastor Dean Odle; and Springville mayor and former state representative Dave Thomas.
Qualifying in both parties ends Friday.
Flowers grew up in Birmingham, the youngest of five siblings. After graduating from Woodlawn High School in 1978, she left home to attend Maryville College in Tennessee. She dropped out of college and would not return until she had raised three children with the Tennessee man who would be her husband for more than 40 years.
“I was just in love,” Flowers said, giving a brief life history during her campaign announcement on MLK Day. Her husband, Curtis Flowers, died last year.
The Christian faith was a theme at the campaign announcement, which was livestreamed on Facebook. There were prayers and brief remarks by close friends of her parents.
Flowers returned to college when her youngest child was in high school. She earned an associate’s degree in speech therapy in 2004, a bachelor’s degree in audiology from the University of Tennessee in 2007, and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from UT two years later. She worked in vocational rehabilitation after previous jobs as a reading instructor, a teacher’s assistant, and an assistant speech pathologist.
Flowers’ and her family moved back to Birmingham in 2015.
“My desire to come back home has always been very strong and hopeful,” Flowers said. “God opened it back up to where I could.”
Flowers worked for the Birmingham City school system until her husband’s health problems forced her into what she now calls semi-retirement. She has an herbal tea business. She is secretary of the Oak Ridge Park neighborhood association.
Flowers considers herself a senior citizen now and is disappointed with the progress in her home state.
“I still see a lot of injustice,” Flowers said. “And it still causes my heart to hurt as it did when I was younger. My parents did shield me from a lot of things. But I still saw a lot of things.”
Flowers has 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. She said she loves Alabama and wants it to be a better place for them raise their kids.
“I want to convey the message, that’s what I hope, to convey the message that we are all in this together,” Flowers said. “We are not one race against the other race. Or one ethnic group against the other group. A lot of us may see it as that.
“The message that we have conveyed as senior citizens – because I am a senior citizen now – we have not given a good positive, hopeful message. It is time for us to do that. If we want to have a better society for our children’s children’s children, it’s time to show more love for one another.”
Education is one of the main topics in Flowers’ “reconstructing Alabama” platform. Flowers said schools need better funding, better trained teachers, smaller classrooms, and psychological evaluations for all students. She said she’ll propose healthcare reforms to help low-income, working families, the elderly, and small businesses. She said changes are needed in a criminal justice system that she said is plagued by inequality.
Flowers said the level of crime and shootings in Alabama is heartbreaking.
“When I drive the roads, just the streets of Birmingham, I see poverty has no color,” Flowers said. “I see the bullet has no particular person’s name or race on it. It just hits whoever it wants to. It just hurts my heart.”
“The question should be, what can I do to make it better?” Flowers said. “Instead of just, ‘Oh Lord, there’s another person dead.”
Flowers said she hopes she is able to get her message out and that voters will listen.
“I ask that people will hear my heart,” she said. “And that’s the only way you would know which decision to make. Hear me. Get to know me. And let’s just reconstruct Alabama together. It’s going to take us all to do it.”