The Birmingham City Council appointed five new members to the Birmingham Public Library’s board of trustees Tuesday, replacing a majority of the board’s current lineup, including President Eunice Johnson Rogers.
Though she was eligible for a second four-year term on the board, Rogers will be replaced by Huffman High School Principal John C. Lyons.
Former Circuit Court Judge J. Scott Vowell, meanwhile, will be replaced on the board by Yolanda Hardy, a retired regional coordinator for the Birmingham library system, while former board president James Sullivan will be replaced by Yawntreshia Coleman, the founder of Magic City Food Tours and a 2009 candidate for the city council’s District 2 seat.
Fatima Carter, another board member who was eligible but not selected for a second term, will be replaced by R. Jordan Davis.
The board seat held by Sherri Nielsen, meanwhile, will be taken over by Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson, a local comedian who in June 2020 was charged by Birmingham police with inciting a riot in Linn Park following the death of George Floyd. Johnson blamed outside agitators and the charges were dismissed later that month.
The council also voted to reappoint Willie Davis III for a second term on the library board; Davis also was recently appointed to a second term on the board of the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority.
It’s a high-profile shake-up for the library board, which over the past several years has proven a lightning rod for controversy — first for its handling of complaints against former executive director Floyd Council, who resigned in December 2020, then for Rogers’ announcement last year that the board would shut down four BPL branches in majority-black neighborhoods because of budget demands.
Mayor Randall Woodfin responded by accusing Rogers of “playing games.” The four branches in question — East Ensley, Ensley, North Avondale and Titusville — remain open.
The story has been corrected to reflect that Yolanda Hardy is a retired library employee, not a current one.