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Wooster Public Health Breakfast

About the Award

The Lou Wooster Public Health Hero Award is presented annually to recognize individuals, groups, or organizations who are unconventional public health heroes. The award honors Lou Wooster, a 19th century Birmingham madam who risked her life to care for the sick and dying during the 1873 cholera epidemic and whose helped ensure the city's survival.

Lou Wooster Ceremony & Breakfast

April 10, 2015
The Edge of Chaos


Birmingham, Alabama’s legendary 19th-century madam Louise "Lou" Wooster possessed the dreamy imagination of a romance novelist and the compassion of a philanthropist. Lou lived on the seamy side of polite Birmingham society, but when a cholera epidemic struck in 1873, her concern for others blazed forth into the full light of day. Most residents fled the young city during the outbreak but not Lou. She stood her ground against the disease and opened her downtown brothel to the sick and poor and helped care for them.

Like Louise Wooster, the legendary figure who saved Birmingham from a cholera epidemic and nursed it back to health, Angelou Ezeilo is an unconventional public health hero.  As CEO and Founder of the Greening Youth Foundation in Atlanta, Angelou embarked on a dream of educating the next generation of youth about the importance of land preservation.  Through the Greening Youth Foundation she has worked to give environmental access to underserved children and adults across the country and in Ghana, West Africa. The Public School Initiative offers programs like Forever Green and Green STEM, programs that expose students to conservation and sustainable practices in their everyday lives. The Atlanta Youth Corps actively assembles crews of 6 between the ages of 17 and 24 who are assigned to special projects throughout the city of Atlanta.  From a modern day public health perspective Angelou Ezeilo lives up to Lou Wooster's tradition of serving the public's health and brings honor to her memory. The commitment to environmental education and conservation of our youth is as vital today as her devotion and resourcefulness were to Birmingham in 1874.  When the renowned madam of the boomtown's most exclusive bordello chose to stay behind and care for those threatened by a natural disaster, it was an extraordinary act.  So is yours. Like her, Angelou Ezeilo demonstrates boldness and vision as well as an eye on the future of the public's health. After all, were it not for Madame Lou, the city around us might no longer exist.


Hero award is presented annually by the Broad Street Committee of the UAB School of Public Health.