3/4/2010 - Alabama Women's Hall of Fame, 2010 Inductees
Two courageous and tenacious Alabama women, Margaret Charles Smith and Mary Ivy Burks, will be inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame on March 4.
Margaret Charles Smith of Eutaw was a medical pioneer who practiced midwifery in rural settings for those who could not afford hospitalization.
Smith was born in 1906 and was raised by her grandmother who had been brought to the U.S. as a slave at the age of 13 and sold for three dollars.
Smith completed the third grade in a one-room rural grammar school in Eutaw. In the late 1940s she obtained a permit from the Public Health Team and became one of Greene County's official midwifes. Between 1943 and 1981 Smith delivered more than 3,500 babies. She never lost a mother and only lost a few infants.
Smith was 75 when she delivered her last baby.
Smith became a legend for delivering so many babies and a legend for her compassion since the women she served were most often overworked and malnourished.
Mary Ivy Burks of Birmingham worked to establish a Sipsey Wilderness Area in the Bankhead National Forest at a time when many believed that "The Wilderness Act" should apply only to the western part of the United States.
She was in the forefront of what became known as the Eastern Wilderness Movement. Her work to secure the Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead National Forest was her crowning achievement.
She tried, but failed, to have the Cahaba River designated a Wild and Scenic River. However, her leadership was crucial in passing the "U.S. Eastern Wilderness Areas Act" in 1975 that designated 12,700 acres along the west fork of the Sipsey River as Alabama's first national wilderness area.
Burks worked with others to add part of the Cheaha Mountain to wilderness designation. The work she began in the 1970s bore fruit in 1988 when the Sipsey wilderness area was enlarged to 25,000 acres and the Sipsey River's west fork was designated as Alabama's only national wild and scenic river.
Burks was born in 1920 and graduated from Ramsay High School and Birmingham-Southern College.
According to the AWHOF guidelines, a nominee must have been deceased for two years. Smith died Nov. 12, 2004 and Burks died Feb. 16, 2007.
The AWHOF, founded in 1970, is housed in the A. Howard Bean Hall on Judson's campus.
The induction ceremony will be at 10:30 a.m. in Alumnae Auditorium on the Judson campus. Additional information is available on the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame website.