The award is named in honor of the late Vivian Malone, who defied segregationist Governor George Wallace by enrolling at the University of Alabama and becoming its first African American graduate.
This year’s award is presented to Michelle Browder, American artist and activist known for her historical tours, murals and sculptures in Montgomery, particularly the Mothers of Gynecology Monument. This year’s Vivian Malone Courage award is a print of an original painting by award-winning abstract and figurative artist Avis Collins Robinson.
Join us for an evening that honors the courage and tenacity of the late Vivian Malone as we award Michelle Browder, American artist and activist. The evening will feature a special performance by, Adaku Utah, awards presentation as well as a fireside chat featuring:
Michelle is a native of Denver, Colorado. At the age 7, Michelle and her family moved to rural Verbena, Alabama in the late 70’s. Michelle experienced bullying through racial bias at an early age. Out spoken as a child, Michelle began combating her attackers through physical confrontations leading to multiple suspensions. During her last suspension, Michelle’s father gave her an ultimatum, “Prison or Art.” He challenged her to seize the moment to be creative.
At the age of 13, Michelle harnessed her entrepreneurial spirit and started a hand painted T-shirt business. After graduation, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia and attended the Art Institute of Atlanta studying Graphic Design and Visual Communications.
For nearly 35 years, Michelle has used art, history, and “real talk” conversations to mentor marginalized and disfavored students through visual arts and spoken word. She has created and branded art diversion programs used by juvenile detention centers in Atlanta, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama.
Michelle’s art has been shown in galleries across the country including the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. She has painted for Tyler Perry, Denzel Washington, and countless other stars. She opened a gallery and restaurant called PJR’S FISH AND BBQ RESTAURANT that employed high school students, returning citizens, and the homeless. Michelle has traveled across the country speaking and motivating our children to be More Than a statistic, generalization, or stereotype. She challenges all children and students to defy the odds of victimization.
Today, Michelle is the founder and director of I AM MORE THAN... Youth Empowerment Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. She owns and operates More Than Tours, a social business providing educational tours for nearly 10,000 underserved students in marginalized communities of color.
One of Browder’s regular tour stops is at the statue of J. Marion Sims, a doctor memorialized as the “father of modern gynecology”. In 2021, Browder took over a site a few blocks away from that statue as well as the once office of Dr. Simms, and unveiled a striking sculpture entitled “the Mothers of Gynecology” – depicting three enslaved women named Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey, who endured dozens of surgical experiments. The statues were made from discarded metal objects— mostly contributions from the public—to symbolize how Black women have been treated and to demonstrate the beauty in the broken and discarded.
Michelle’s mission is simple,“Exposing Our Children To The Truth, Will Give Them Access To A Seat At The Table.
Dr. Sharon Malone
Dr. Sharon Malone is among the nation’s leading obstetrician / gynecologists. Born in Mobile, Alabama, the youngest of eight siblings and sister of the late Vivian Malone Jones, who, in 1963, became one of the first African American students to enroll at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Dr. Malone was raised by her siblings after the death of her mother and moved multiple times, changing schools four times in four years in three different states. Dr. Malone found strength and resilience in community, in her own work ethic and in her strong belief that there are no accidents in the universe.
She went on to graduate cum laude from Harvard with a degree in Psychology and Social Relations and later graduated with honors from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Upon completing her residency at The George Washington University, Dr. Malone served women across Washington DC in her almost 30 years as a practicing Ob/Gyn. As Chief Medical Advisor of Alloy, Dr. Malone wants to bring her expertise to women on a larger scale. She believes that all women should be able to make decisions regarding their health and quality of life base on facts – not fear.